Gr 1-3-Matilda, a cat, is the worst waitress Burt's Diner has ever seen. But customers are happy to put up with the bad service since it means hearing her fabulous tales. Then the health inspector shows up. To save the diner from being shut down, Matilda cleans it until it's spotless and becomes a model waitress. Unfortunately, all the concentration it takes to be a good waitress and keep things tidy makes Matilda too tired to think of any stories, until the health inspector returns. On that day, her new tale stops a robbery and wins his respect. The plucky heroine inhabits a world filled with phrases like "packed tighter than a jar of dill pickles," and there are plenty of verbs missing "g's," such as "brewin'" and "conjurin'." All of this makes it necessary, not to mention wicked fun, to read with a Texas twang-the bigger the better. Bowers has a knack for giving the animal characters life with seeming movement in the action scenes, comical facial expressions, and attention to detail. His illustrations perfectly capture the Western feel of the story through patrons with cowboy hats and kerchiefs, but he doesn't overdo it; the moose fittingly wears a red-plaid flannel shirt and a down vest. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that a common housefly makes an appearance in every spread. Excellent for storytimes or as a catalyst for kids to write their own stories.-Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This western-tinged tale stars Matilda the cat, one of the worst waitresses ever. She always gets orders wrong, is messy and uncoordinated. The reason for this poor performance is her constant imaginative storytelling. Customers easily forgive her work deficiencies for the excitement of "lassoin' bad guys or wrestlin' twisters." Burt, the doggy diner owner, likes that the customers are kept in their seats in anticipation of each creative tale. Then the health inspector cites the diner for all sorts of violations, all due to Matilda. In order to save the diner, Matilda straightens out and becomes the perfect waitress. This pleases only the health inspector; everyone else is dismayed by the lack of storytelling and excitement. When a robbery occurs at the diner, Matilda's storytelling saves the day. Cartoonish illustrations are toddler friendly with lots of bright colors and visual jokes, but the Western style of the writing seems arbitrary as the diner is in a city. For a humorous picture book story with western flair, try The Three Little Javelinas (1992), by Susan Lowell, instead. (Picture book. 5-7)