You can't drink a meatball through a straw

Henry Winkler, 1945-

Book - 2016

When someone drops out of his cousin Judith Ann's cooking competition, Hank takes the chance to show his seemingly perfect cousin that he can cook as well as she can, if not better.

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New York, New York, USA : Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Random House [2016]
Main Author
Henry Winkler, 1945- (author)
Other Authors
Lin Oliver (author), Scott Garrett (illustrator)
Physical Description
121 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Horn Book Review

Irrepressible Hank Zipzer, a boy with learning disabilities, is back; this time, he's serving up his usual hijinks while competing in a cooking contest against his stuck-up cousin, Judith Ann. As in previous books, there's a fast-paced (and somewhat predictable) story line, lively dialogue, and lots of black-and-white cartoon-style spot art. The typeface used throughout is designed to benefit dyslexic readers. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

CHAPTER ONE   "Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!" I yelled at the top of my lungs. "The pizza's here!"   "How do you know?" my best friend Frankie Townsend asked. "I didn't hear the doorbell ring."   "My nose knows," I told him. "I can sniff out pepperoni a mile away."   It was Friday pizza night. Frankie and my other best friend, Ashley Wong, and I were sitting in my living room playing this card game we made up called Florida Coconuts. I'd explain the rules to you, but they don't make any sense, even to us. It involves dropping a deck of cards on the loser's head, instead of a real coconut, which would leave a lump.   I got up and ran to the front door. Our dog, Cheerio, followed me. He can sniff out pepperoni a mile away, too. I taught him that. My mom was there balancing a huge pizza box in her hands. My younger sister, Emily, was next to her, holding a paper bag that smelled like Italian salad and garlic rolls. Standing next to her was a tall girl wearing a white chef's hat.   "Mom, I've never been so glad to see you in my whole life!" I said. "Emily, I'm not that happy to see you. And you with the crazy hat, I have no idea who you are."   "Hank," my mom said, coming into our apartment. "This is your cousin Judith Ann. Remember, I told you she was coming in from Chicago to spend the weekend with us. We're hosting her while her parents are away at a business conference."   "Whoops," I answered. "That must have slipped right through my brain and out my left ear. Or maybe it was my right ear. But who cares when there's pizza involved?"   I reached out and took the box from my mom's hands and headed for the dining-room table.   My dad brought plates and a big roll of paper towels from the kitchen. It was going to be our usual Friday pizza feast and movie night.   "Dig in, Judith Ann," I called to her. "Take off your crazy hat and grab a slice while it's hot."   Judith Ann walked over to the dining-room table and stared at our pizza.   "No thanks," she said. "I don't eat that type of pizza."   "Oh," my dad said. "Are you allergic to wheat?"   "No," Judith Ann said. "But I only like pizza I make myself, with goat cheese and artichokes."   "Judith Ann is quite an excellent cook," my mom explained. "In fact, in case you have forgotten," she said, looking straight at me, "the reason she's spending the weekend with us is that she's competing in the Junior Chef Cook-Off."   "Oh, that explains the crazy hat," I said. "But I've got to tell you, Judy, you're missing out on one delicious pizza here. We ordered triple cheese with pepperoni."   "No one calls me Judy," she said without cracking a smile. "My full name is Judith Ann. Just like your full name is Henry--which is what I'm going to call you."   "You can do that," I said with my mouth full. "But I won't answer."   Ashley and Frankie burst out laughing, shooting some pretty powerful garlic breath into the air.   "He's been 'Hank' since we were in preschool," Frankie told her.   "He's definitely not a 'Henry' type," Ashley added. "Henrys have gray hair and are math teachers."   "Yeah." I laughed. "I can't even subtract, so you better stick with Hank. Tell me, Judy . . . I mean Judith . . . I mean Judith Ann. What's your favorite thing to cook, aside from weird pizza?"   "Well, for the Junior Chef Cook-Off this weekend, I'll be preparing my special vegetarian meatballs."   "Wait a minute." I stopped eating and scratched my head. "What makes it a meatball if there's no meat? I mean, if there's no meat, then it's just a ball."   Frankie and Ashley cracked up again. Judith Ann was not amused.   "My vegetarian meatballs are made of chopped eggplant, carrots, mushrooms, white beans, and of course, bread crumbs."   "Oh, they sound . . . so . . . um . . . interesting," Ashley said.   "And round," Frankie added.   Judith Ann seemed pleased. "I got the idea from watching my favorite TV show, Country Cooking for the City . They were making vegetarian hot dogs."   The idea of a hot dog made of mushed-up cauliflower almost made me gag. So I decided it'd be best to just eat some pepperoni pizza and talk about TV shows.   "Wait a minute--on all of TV, that's your favorite show?" I said to Judith Ann, taking a bite of my new slice of pizza. "My favorite is Zombats . It's about these really scary zombie bats. You'd love it."   "I don't really like hairy rodents," Judith Ann said. "Besides, I only watch cooking shows on TV."   "Too bad," I said. "Just like this pizza, you're missing out." I tried to offer Judith Ann a slice, one with a juicy piece of pepperoni right in the middle, but she just made a face.   "How about if I make you guys some real food?" Judith Ann said. "I need to practice for the contest anyway, and you can be my tasters. Maybe my cooking will take your taste buds on a new adventure."   "Oh, that sounds like such fun, doesn't it, kids?" my mom said with a little too much enthusiasm.   "Yeah, it really does," Emily agreed.   "Emily, you have a chore to do first," my dad said. "Katherine's cage needs cleaning. When you have a pet, you have to take care of it."   Cheerio wagged his tail and started chasing it. When he runs in a circle, he looks just like a Cheerio. That's how he got his name.   "Oh, that's right, Daddy," Emily said. Then turning to Judith Ann, she added, "Katherine is my pet iguana. She's really pretty. And she doesn't like a pellet-poop buildup."   For just a second, Judith Ann looked like she was going to throw up. But she recovered in time to squeak out, "I'll be in the kitchen when you're finished."   Ashley and Frankie and I had been planning to watch The Swamp Monster for the fortieth time. But before I knew it, my mom had herded us into the kitchen to watch Judith Ann wash her eggplants and carrots and mushrooms.   So long, Swamp Monster. Good-bye, fun.   It was going to be a vegetarian meatball kind of night. Excerpted from You Can't Drink a Meatball Through a Straw #7 by Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.