[book review] If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant by Ellen Fischer and Laura Wood

Fancy a plate of ants and worms, a bowl of lilac nectar, or some crabs and shrimp?

Maybe a bowl of chili or a BLT on whole wheat is more to your liking. 🙂

Whatever your pleasure, just come right in and take a seat! No reservations required. A good appetite, healthy curiosity and sense of humor are all you need to enjoy If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant, a delectably charming picture book by Ellen Fischer and Laura Wood (Scarletta Kids, 2014).

I must confess this book had me at the cover. I was instantly intrigued by all the possible scenarios suggested by the title, and how often does one see a lovable armadillo noshing on a plate of spaghetti and meatballs?  I could already tell this would probably be one funny feast.

What I didn’t expect was that through a series of humorous questions and answers, I’d learn what the armadillo as well as eight other creatures would definitely not order at their favorite eateries, followed by what they actually do like to eat. We also get to see where all these cool animals live.


If an armadillo burrowed into an underground restaurant, what would she order?


Spaghetti with meatballs? No Way!


An armadillo might order . . . A plate of Ants and Worms with a few beetles thrown in.


We go on to dine with a sea turtle, rattlesnake, butterfly, wallaby, hedgehog, ostrich, giraffe and octopus. First a serving of wonder and whimsy, then the real “meat and potatoes.” Just the thought of these hungry animals frequenting a lagoon buffet, an Australian sandwich shop, a grassland grill or a savanna snack bar will get kids giggling. The repetitive pattern of question and answer punctuated with various emphatic “no’s” (No Sir! Definitely Not! Improbable. Highly Debatable. Nope!) make for a fun read aloud and will definitely get readers eagerly turning the pages.

Wood’s anthropomorphized animals are endearing and brim with personality. The armadillo’s bewildered expression with her nose tangled up in pasta, the sea turtle’s look of sheer bliss as he kicks back with his crabs and shrimp, the sweetness of the butterfly sipping on nectar, and the octopus wielding eight forks over his bowl of scallops, snails, and crabs are irresistibly delish. And Wood does a nice job of depicting the animals’ real habitats, whether desert, ocean, meadow or lagoon.

The book ends with a fun reversal: the narrator asks what she would order at her favorite restaurant — “A plate of ants and worms? NO WAY!” Then we are treated to a big, beautiful stack of blueberry pancakes dripping with maple syrup and a tall glass of milk! Just to tempt the reader further, one final question: “What would YOU order?” with menu items for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert (Fresh Berries with Yogurt, Mac and Cheese, Chicken Tacos and Chocolate Cake for me, thankyouverymuch).

If An Armadillo Went to a Restaurant makes fascinating info go down easy. Contrasting familiar kid friendly foods (pizza, french fries, chili) with animal diets bound to elicit a few “yucks” and “ewwws” (live rodents, worms, snails, succulent plants) drives the point home with gustatory gusto. This flavorful menu of fact and fun, with its engaging, inventive illustrations and opportunities for counting and vocabulary development is just the thing to satisfy hungry minds. Chew on this book soon. Yum!

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written by Ellen Fischer
illustrated by Laura Wood
published by Scarletta Kids/Mighty Media Press, 2014
Picture Book for ages 4-7, 32 pp.

* Click here for an Activity Guide at the publisher’s website.


*Spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2014 Ellen Fischer, illustrations © 2014 Laura Wood, published by Scarletta Kids/Mighty Media Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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