Because of Thursday

illus. by Patricia Polacco. 40p. S. & S. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481421409.
Gr 2–4—Each of Annie's most important milestones have happened on a Thursday, including her wedding and the opening of a diner with her husband, Mario. The diner quickly becomes famous for Annie's signature dish, a pasta salad she christens Poke Salad, invented, unsurprisingly, on a Thursday. It is notably not a Thursday when, many years later, Annie loses her dear husband and with him her zeal for Poke Salad, feeding the community, and the diner. Without Mario or the diner, Annie retreats into a solitary, heartbroken life—until the Thursday she discovers an abandoned kitten on her porch. The cat, whom Annie names Thursday, becomes her constant companion and reinvigorates her culinary spirit. Before long, Annie and the townsfolk reopen the diner, which features Annie's Poke Salad and a new feline entertainer. After an accident in the kitchen results in a terrifically ugly but wonderfully aromatic pasta dish, a surprise guest to the diner puts Annie and her new "Ugly Pasta" on the map. Rendered in colored pencil and acetone markers in Polacco's signature style, the illustrations are bold and colorful and teem with activity. However, what begins as a sweet and heartfelt family tale takes an unexpected and outlandish turn with the introduction of a Guy Fieri-esque TV host. Featured is a photo of the author with her cat, Thursday, who inspired the story, as well as Polacco's own recipe for Ugly Pasta.
VERDICT Less compelling than Polacco's typical autobiographical or historical fare, this lighthearted selection should still please her most dedicated fans.

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