“Hi, Pizza Man!” by Virginia Walter, with illustrations by Ponder Goembel, was inarguably the biggest hit of the pizza-themed toddler storytime I led last spring. My listeners loved the story’s humor and frequent opportunities for audience participation. Since then, I have read this book to a variety of groups, and it has never let me down. At the beginning of the story, young Vivian and her mother are waiting for a pizza to be delivered to their house. Every page spread in the book features a view of the same room in Vivian’s house, with her front door (sometimes closed, sometimes open) always appearing on the right-hand page. To pass the time while they wait, Vivian’s mother asks her what she’ll say when the doorbell rings and she opens the door. The girl’s answer is, “Hi, Pizza Man!” These words are accompanied by a picture of a man standing in the open doorway, holding a pizza box. On the next page, the door is closed again, and Vivian’s mother asks, “What if it’s not a pizza man? What if it’s a pizza woman? Then what will you say?” The answer, of course, is “Hi, Pizza Woman!” and is accompanied by an illustration of an elegant woman delivering a pizza. Vivian’s mother then invites her to imagine a variety of comically-dressed animals delivering the pizza. Vivian plans to greet each animal by making its sound. For example, to the cat wearing a top hat and cape, she’ll say, “Meow meow, Pizza Kitty!” This book offers listeners lots of opportunities to practice waving and making animal sounds to greet each imaginary pizza deliverer. At the end of the story, the doorbell rings. The pizza has arrived, and the reader finally gets to find out which person or animal is delivering Vivian’s dinner. This book’s silly humor appeals to young children. Animals don’t deliver pizza or wear fancy clothing, so it’s funny to see them doing these things in the story. “Hi, Pizza Man!” is a great read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers, either in a group or one-on-one. I plan to read this sure-fire winner to many young listeners in 2014.
Check the WRL catalog for “Hi, Pizza Man!”