sippin’ soup at happy harry’s café by michael rosen and richard holland


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 an 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!)



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.


* * * * *

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

* * * * *


Michael Rosen’s Official Website

Richard Holland’s Bio at Walker Books



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.

25 thoughts on “sippin’ soup at happy harry’s café by michael rosen and richard holland

  1. Sounds just plain, guffawing silly, Jama. I just read ‘Bananas In My Ears’ by Michael Rosen a few days ago, also fun. He has the sense of humor that’s always fun to read aloud. Glad you found another lip-smacking book!


  2. Ah-h, soup! A good book to read in this chilling fall weather. I especially like the varying fonts.


  3. After reading this I hurried over to place an order. It made me think of Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice and January is National Soup Month. What a delicious title to add to the mix. See You At Harry’s was one of my favorite reads of the summer; extremely well written and moving.
    Thanks, Jama. I love stopping by your blog. Did you see that one of the Julia Child picture books received a Nerdy Book Club nomination?


    1. Yay for Jessie Hartland’s book!

      Yes, National Soup Month will soon be upon us. How I love that Sendak book — See You at Harry’s was one of my very favorite books of 2012, so well deserving of all the accolades.

      Thanks for stopping by to visit,
      your friend, Harry 🙂


  4. This is the first time I’ve seen Richard Holland’s artwork. How can I be so remiss?! And of course Michael Rosen is an absolute favorite. Will look for this in our libraries. Sounds like a thoroughly delightful read.


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