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Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco: Two Polar Bears on a Mission to Save the Klondike Cafe!


If Laurie Berkner is a rock star for kids, "Victor Vito" is her anthem! Packaged with a CD single of this huge hit song, the book, hilariously illustrated by Henry Cole, is now in paperback!

Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco leave their failed Klondike Cafe in search of zesty new foods from around the 50 states. Along the way, they stop in New Mexico for burritos, South Carolina for rutabagas and collard greens, and NYC's Little Italy for the ...

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If Laurie Berkner is a rock star for kids, "Victor Vito" is her anthem! Packaged with a CD single of this huge hit song, the book, hilariously illustrated by Henry Cole, is now in paperback!

Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco leave their failed Klondike Cafe in search of zesty new foods from around the 50 states. Along the way, they stop in New Mexico for burritos, South Carolina for rutabagas and collard greens, and NYC's Little Italy for the spaghetti that made this song famous!

Kids can now sing the words to their favorite Berkner hit as the lyrics pop off the pages and come to life in the hilarious illustrations of Henry Cole.

Two polar bears take a road trip across the United States to find exciting new foods to serve at their Klondike Cafe. Includes sheet music and road trip map.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Children's singer/songwriter Laurie Berkner brings one of her bebopping songs to the page, telling a food-filled tale about two Alaskan polar bears off to save their café.

Illustrated with zippy artwork by Henry Cole, Berkner's whimsical excursion begins with a note from the two bears, Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco, about their decision "to drive through the United States and taste different treats in New Mexico, Louisiana, and New York" in order to bring new dishes back for their grumpy café customers (they're "fed up with fish"). Readers follow along with Berkner's lyrics -- each page is also marked with newspaper headlines to help clarify the plot -- to see Victor and Freddie make their way from Alaska to New Mexico, where they "ate a burrito with Tabasco. They put it on their rice. They put it on their beans"; to Louisiana for some rutabagas and collard greens; and then to New York for spaghetti in Little Italy. Meanwhile, the folks back at the Klondike Café get a load of Victor and Freddie's postcards, and after the two explorers return for the grand reopening, the happy eaters all get a sumptuous feast topped off with plates of spaghetti.

Packaged with a CD of Berkner singing "Victor Vito" and another hit, "Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)!," this rollicking read will have kids tapping their toes and aching for spaghetti! The singer's lyrics make for a surprisingly peppy lesson about regional foods and teamwork, while Cole's artwork provides a storyline that's sure to keep children in stitches. For winning sing-along storytimes, pair this winner with They Might Be Giants' Bed, Bed, Bed or Sandra Boynton's Philadelphia Chickens. Matt Warner

Publishers Weekly
Musician and children's performer Berkner (Victor Vito, Under a Shady Tree) adapts one of her fun-flavored tunes as a picture book. Unfortunately, what works so well as a catchy, silly sing-along in concert isn't as successful in print. Here, Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco take on the guise of two polar bears who own a caf in Alaska. With their customers tiring of the same old local fish fare, the duo decides to close up shop and travel the lower 48 in search of new taste treats and recipes. The trip is chronicled like so: "Victor Vito and Eddie Vasco/ ate a burrito with Tabasco./ They put it on their rice./ They put it on their beans/ on their rutabagas/ and on their collard greens." This verse, and the refrain, "Hey Victor!/ Hey Freddie!/ Let's eat some spaghetti," repeats several times, which makes for a scattershot plot. Finally, the bears return home with a revamped menu in mind. Cole's nimble watercolors bring readers on a quick coast-to-coast culinary adventure, clearly stretching the song beyond its borders. Humorous details include the friendly, lumbering Victor and Freddie loading up their Volkswagen Beetle with supplies, and the walrus cooks and seal waitresses back in Alaska reading postcards from their bear bosses. A CD recording containing Berkner's infectiously fun performance of "Victor Vito" and another of her original tunes, "Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)," is included. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Those crazy polar bears, Victor and Freddie, own the Klondike café but their customers are sick of eating fish (the only thing these two know how to fix). They start on a trek that takes them from Alaska to the far southwest where they try burritos, beans and rice, then into the deep south for corn bread and collards at Chez Crawfish. The really big hit is spaghetti in none other than New York City's Little Italy. They head back with all their newfound delicacies and readers are also given a chance to see customers and staff of the Klondike Café reading postcards that have been sent by the polar bear duo. There is great excitement when they return and spruce up the café and introduce all these ethnic foods to their clientele. Henry Cole manages to give all of the creatures in this story some personality. The seal waitresses even manage to look sexy while sunbathing, and I loved the name on one of the uniforms (Cesealia). There are so many extra bits of humor in the drawings that they merit a second look. The jukebox at Chez Crawfish has the manufacture's name as "Bon Temps" and the waiters are an alligator and a muskrat. Young and old will enjoy this book and of course, the CD with Laurie Berkner performing "Victor Vito," "Laurie (talking)" and "Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)" are just icing on the proverbial cake. 2004, Orchard Books/Scholastic, Ages 4 to 8.
—Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Berkner's children's song is "set to story" in this colorful picture book. Victor and Freddie, two polar bears who own the Klondike Cafe in Alaska, decide they need to spice up their menu. They close their restaurant, give their walrus cooks and seal waitresses a vacation, hop into a convertible VW bug, and travel around America to find new flavors. From burritos in New Mexico to collard greens in Louisiana, and spaghetti in New York, they load up with different foods. Once home, they are joined by a party of critters at the Cafe to celebrate their new cuisine. Cole's lush cartoon illustrations sprawl across the pages as the bears take in the scenery and tasty treats during their excursion. Added touches like the vacationing staff lolling on the beach and reading their bosses' postcards enlarge upon the slight lyrics. Children familiar with the song will enjoy the nuttiness of the story and even those who don't know it will appreciate the bears' antics. With its rhythmic lyrics and refrains, this is a fine choice for group sharing and would be fun to pair with the CD for a multimedia storytime.-Marge Loch-Wouters, Menasha's Public Library, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A food-themed children's song recorded by Berkner is served up as the story's text in this saga of two traveling polar bears, Victor and Freddie. They own a cafe in Alaska, and when their customers become bored with the menu's single offering of salmon, the bear pair sets off to expand their culinary horizons on a cross-country road trip. They eat burritos in New Mexico, rutabagas and collard greens in Louisiana, and spaghetti in New York City, all the while sending postcards back home to the Klondike Cafe. Cole's costumed animals are full of delightful expression, particularly his seal waitresses in their perky pink uniforms and '50s-style specs. The song lyrics are augmented with an opening letter explaining the upcoming journey and with a device of newspaper-style headlines in the upper page corners to indicate a change in location. The repetitive and rhythmic song lyrics serve as predictable text, but the words really need to be sung to enjoy the work to its fullest flavor. (The music is included.) (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439915298
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Edition description: BK&CD-ROM
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurie Berkner

HENRY COLE was born on a dairy farm near Purcellville, Virginia, and was an adored elementary-school science teacher for 16 years. He has since illustrated over 80 popular picture books, including the multimillion-selling Moose series and other bestsellers. Mr. Cole has always loved art and science, which has made him a keen observer of details in nature. He now lives in both Florida and Virginia.
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 8, 2012


    Catchy tune and hilarious words. Fun for kids and grown-ups alike.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2009

    great book!

    i bought this book when i first started teaching preschool. i read it to my threee year old class and they loved it. they wanted to hear the song and see the pictures over and over again. it's a great book when you want to teach children about trying different foods and about travelling. i extended the story of the book by having the children taste the foods mentioned in the book. overall, it is an awesome book!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2005

    Mission Accomplished!

    We received this book/CD during a book exchange over the holidays. My two children ages 5 and 2.5 absolutely LOVE this! I also enjoy the story/song and was thrilled to have not only one, but two songs on the enclosed CD. I am planning on ordering a couple of her CDs right now!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2004

    Creative and Fun

    I purchased this book for my daughter who absolutly loves Laurie. I love the book. There aren't any additional words other than the lyrics, but the song that children love is now coming to life, after all this is who the book is for. The children get to put a face to these Victor and Freddie guys. I love the book, its colorful, wonderfully illustrated, and creative. What better way to promote a CD than to supply children with a book. All children enjoy reading, with this they can read and sing. It's also fun because since there aren't many words, you and the child get to make up stories along with the pictures. I don't know about you parents, but with every story I read, I wind up having to explain every detail of the picture. With this, you get to ask the children what they think is going on, offer ideas, and it builds their imagination. What a better way to learn than to have fun. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2004

    Very Disappointing

    I just received the book from Barnes and Noble, and I am truly very disappointed. I would like to send it back immediately, but since I promised my daughter I would be bringing it home tonight, I do not want to disappoint her. I was expecting a lot more than just song lyrics with pictures! For that, I could have saved my money, and made up my own story, which I will most likely have to do now anyway. We already have all of the cd's so why do I need illustrations to go with it. I see this as nothing more than a shameless promotion of her music cd's. By including a cd with two songs, it proves my point. I am surprised by this and expected a lot more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2004

    Our little Laurie Fans love it!

    Our 5 year-old son has been a huge Laurie fan for almost as long as he could hum a tune, and his little sister is quickly catching up to him. We got this book about a month ago, and it quickly became a favorite for both of them. <p> As an adult, it might not be obvious why this book works, but that isn't what it is for -- it is intended for the children, and as usual, Laurie seems to understand them better than we do. <p> If your kids tend to walk around with a pig on their head, or pretend they're fish sleeping on a rock at the bottom of the ocean, this book will almost definitely cause them to giggle and smile, and they will ask to see it again and again. And after all, that is the whole point, isn't it?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

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