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A Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe    by Barbara Odanaka & Lee White order for
Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe
by Barbara Odanaka
Order:  USA  Can
Margaret K. McElderry, 2009 (2009)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

What begins as a quiet morning at the Critter Café turns into pure chaos when the critter bus breaks down outside the eatery. Before you can say hungry hippo, in the door charge five very rude raccoons, a very noisy elephant band, a cow on a skateboard, and a whole lot of other hungry animals.

'Cherry strudel!' squawks an ostrich. 'Chips and salsa!' yips a poodle. 'You forgot ME,' squeaks a rat. Everyone is ordering and demanding service and the lone waiter is at his wit's end. 'Settle down, just eat your food. It might improve your attitude,' he hollers.

Then disaster hits! Carrying a huge tray loaded with food, the beleaguered waiter is slammed into by the skateboarding cow. Spaghetti and meatballs, root beer floats, a cob of corn and a strawberry sundae are all airborne and when they land, pandemonium results.

That's it! 'Now listen here, all of you: This café is NOT a zoo. Pay your bill, then out the door. And don't come back here anymore,' the distraught waiter screams.

With the animals all gone, the cook and waiter can relax until they realize one animal missed the bus and has decided to stay on to help with the restaurant. Perhaps you can guess who it is, but you'll be really surprised to see what happens next.

Lee White has captured this group of totally out of control critters with his whimsical illustrations, and Barbara Odanaka's rhyming text makes this humorous story fun to read aloud. While youngsters four years of age and older will find the animals' outrageous antics a giggle, mom or dad may want to reinforce the idea that this type of behavior is not acceptable at the family table. At least, let's hope not!

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