Book Review: Fandango Stew by David Davis


Fandango Stew by David Davis, illustrated by Ben Galbraith

A wild west version of Stone Soup, this book will have you singing the praises of Fandago Stew too.  Luis and his grandfather, Slim, come to the town of Skinflint with their stomachs already rumbling with hunger.  But they also have a plan, Fandango Stew.  Unfortunately, the local sheriff is not happy to have them in town and tries to run them out.  But he agrees that Luis and Slim can boil water and throw in their bean.  Slim and Luis break into song “Chili’s good, so is barbecue, but nothing’s finer than Fandango Stew!”  One-by-one the people of Skinflint begin to contribute, shamed into it when Slim and Luis talk about the Fandango Stew they made in other towns and the generosity shown there.  Well, Skinflint may be frugal, but no one calls them stingy!  As each new component is added, Slim and Luis reprise their song, adding new harmony parts.  In the end, you know the story of delicious stew created by a community but this time it has some western seasoning added too.

Davis has created a fun and stylized version of the traditional tale.  The incorporation of the western setting is well developed and adds an interesting dimension to the story.  As the story and the stew develops, the inclusion of the entire community and their pride and willingness to turn it into a party make for a jubilant read.  The use of the song after each addition to the stew adds a strong structure to the book as well.

Galbraith’s illustrations are filled with texture and color.  Everything from the ropes to the boards of the houses to the corrugated roofs add to the rich feel.  As the book progresses, the illustrations move from a sepia toned sparse color to richer colors. 

A rootin’ tootin’ good recipe for a book!  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by BooksForKidsBlog.

Book Review: A Good Knight’s Rest by Shelley Moore Thomas


A Good Knight’s Rest by Shelley Moore Thomas, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas

The Good Knight has had a very busy day of saving princesses and even rescuing a cat from a tree.  He is worn out and weary and decides to go on vacation.  When he goes to say goodbye to the dragons, they ask if they can come with him.  Being the good knight he is, the Good Knight agrees to bring them along.  As they travel, the dragons have them stop again and again to stretch and use the bushes.  Each time, the knight does not want to stop but ends up finding a peaceful spot.  Just when he starts to relax, the dragons want to leave again.  So it goes again and again until finally the dragons realize that the knight really needs some rest and they solve the problem perfectly.

I have long enjoyed the Good Knight series with its gracious and patient Good Knight and the three rambunctious dragons.  This book works particularly well with its strong structure, repetition and the ending that will have everyone smiling.  Thomas writes with a great touch for pacing and an ear for repetition so that it adds to the humor and the tone of the book.

Plecas’ art is bright, colorful and engaging.  Readers will be able to visually see the Good Knight getting more and more tired as they continue their travels.  The wide-eyed dragons are never frightening, rather they are child-like and goofy.

A great book to take on your own summer vacation or to share at naptime or bedtime.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Dutton Children’s Books.