Okay. I admit it. It’s entirely impossible for me to be objective about this book.
Look at the cover forcryingoutloud. See the rotund bearish guy with impish eyebrows wielding tiny cups and saucers on a tray? Well, if you think he’s cute there, wait till you see what he does in this story. His name is Harry and he makes SOUP! !
Now, it would be one thing if Harry’s soup was merely good, the kind that makes people politely smile and nod their heads and say things like, “Mmmm, how tasty, I’d love another bowl.” But this Harry, red suspenders red-and-white checked kerchief I don’t need to wear a shirt in my own café Harry, makes EXTRAORDINARY soup — soup so unbelievably delicious people are always run run running to the café before the soup runs out.
Here’s Ryan the lion. He’s in a rush. He’s rushing Ryan.
Here’s Jo the crow. She’s riding fast. Jo’s no Slow-Jo — oh no.
Here’s Robin the robin. Robin is really bobbing along.
Once they get there, Harry tells them all to “take it easy.” They settle down and enjoy the soup. Yes, they love love love Harry’s soup! But what’s this? Matt the Cat (cool necktie) says the soup is no good (gasp)!
Matt calls Harry over to try the soup. Oh! That’s what’s wrong with it! Phew! A big laugh and then a happy song, and Harry’s soup is still the best. How could it not be?
Of course you’ll have to read the book to see what was up with Harry’s soup. Michael Rosen has put a delightful vaudevillian spin on a old Jewish joke, and Richard Holland has worked his mixed media magic with a clean, breezy, contemporary style, endearing facial expressions (it’s all in the eyebrows) and — *wait for it* — supremely cool font styles and letter sizes that make Rosen’s words pop, perform and play on the page.
(Let us now pause for a few moments to absorb the absolute awesomeness of the word, SOUP, repeated 24 times in this book, mostly in BIG BOLD TYPE!)
SOUP SOUP SOUP
No, it’s impossible to be calm, rational or objective about this book. A laid-back, endearing bear chef (PW called Harry a dog?), all the characters so quirkily defined, typography that sets my alphabetica-loving pulse racing, and a big pot of tomato soup?? Give. me. strength!
*picks self up off floor*
I can see munchkins and short grown-ups all giggly wiggly about this book. I can see them wearing red-checked kerchiefs, banging on the door to get into Harry’s. I can hear the guffaws, the pleas to “READ IT AGAIN!”
Quite a story, quite a meal. A big heapin’ helpin’ of silly, soup and song. Plus, Harry keeps looking at me.
* * * * *
HAPPY HARRY’S CAFÉ
written by Michael Rosen
illustrated by Richard Holland
published by Candlewick Press, October 2012
Picture Book for ages 3+, 32 pp.
Cool themes: humor, restaurants, friendship, food, soup
* * * * *
♥ TWO MORE SLURPS ♥
♥ IT HAS TO BE SAID ♥
There is now sufficient evidence indicating that I need to change my name to “Harry.”
This year, I’ve featured two crackerjack books both embellished with checked tablecloths about Harry eateries, both published by Candlewick Press:
- See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles (just named to New York Times’ Notable Children’s Books of 2012)
- Happy Harry’s Café by Michael Rosen and Richard Holland (just named to Mr. Cornelius’s Best Soup Books 2012)
Both times, I’ve really wished I could actually eat at these places.
Hmmmmm. “Harry’s Alphabet Soup” — nice ring to it, don’t you think?
HAPPY HARRY’S CAFÉ. Copyright © 2012 by Michael Rosen. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Richard Holland. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.
Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.