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May 30, 2015

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Pick of the Day: Secret Pizza Party

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RUBIN, Adam. Secret Pizza Party. illus. by Daniel Salmieri. 40p. Dial. Sept. 2013. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3947-5. LC 2012025360.
In foreground, a raccoon wearing a hat and coatGr 1-4
–Raccoon, paws and nose pressed plaintively to the glass, stares longingly into a pizza parlor. His nemesis, the Pizza Man, chases him off with a broom, and an unseen narrator rhapsodizes, “Ah, pizza… So beautiful, you could hang it on the wall of a museum. So convenient you could eat it in the bathtub.” Raccoon reappears looking forlorn, and the narrator suggests a pizza party at Raccoon’s house–a secret pizza party because, “When you make something secret, you make it special. Regular handshake: Boring. Secret handshake: Booyah!” Wearing stilts and a trench coat, Raccoon absconds with a stolen pizza only to discover an enormous SECRET PIZZA PARTY happening nearby. Unfortunately, he is unable to play it cool and blows his disguise as he rolls around in a pizza-induced frenzy. He flees from the broom-wielding mob (led by the Pizza Man), but his armload of pizza and giant grin prove that he has no regrets. Because the narrator converses directly with Raccoon, listeners are aligned with him and identify with the roguish creature. The skillful gouache-and-ink compositions are full of sly details and visual humor. It’s hard not to giggle at scenes like the lanky pizza man with angry eyebrows and a handlebar mustache rolling out dough while glaring at a “Wanted” poster featuring the raccoon. With a casually diverse cast of characters, Secret Pizza Party is a sure hit for primary-grade kids, who will appreciate the subtle humor and absurdity.–Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, White Bear Lake, MN

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