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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Fandango Stew and “Why you should go up and down every row of exhibit halls”

The placement of an Exhibit hall booth is a science. Those vendors with the best placement are probably paying the most money and have an established exhibit hall history. But there are other factors that determine where booths of vendors are located. Sometimes there are special rows that are intended to highlight special interests like colleges, international vendors with languages other than English, newby authors, etc. Do those placements help or hurt the vendor? Do they draw more attention to the rows or do they enable conference goer’s to simply pass up going down a row because they think the titles overhead have no interest to them?

I wonder this each conference I attend and I do my very best to wander the far fringes of exhibit halls. I make sure to thank first-time exhibitors and to chat with vendors who seem “lonely”. (Okay, I hear the snickers of my friends who know I will chat with anyone) I can imagine what it would be like to be an author sitting in a booth and hoping that someone would stop by to ask about my book.

I don’t know what booth I visited to find this book Fandango Stew by David Davis and illustrated by Ben Galbraith. It is published by Sterling Publishing so I wonder if they had the booth or if it was a regional Texas find. Regardless of how I discovered it, I am so glad that I paused to pick up this title and have it autographed.

Fandango Stew is a Western version of Stone Soup. When David Davis autographed it for me, he said to make sure that I sang the ditty when I read:

Chili’s good, so is barbecue, but nothing’s finer than Fandango Stew!”

The vocabulary is rich in this title and there is humor for adults as well as students. I was able to drawl the story and have a great time teaching the students to sing on demand. Students  in kindergarten through second grade still sing the ditty each time they see me in the hallway so I know it was a success.

If I listened to the voice of adults, I might not have tried this with children. One teacher said, “It’s so long.” Another said, “It has some sophisticated vocabulary and too many words.”

I say to those teachers, “PHOOEY!”

Fandango Stew was a great read. It may have been a little longer than some titles, but the students enjoyed it. They caught the gist of the story. All levels of readers were able to extract meaning while listening. They were able to recall the extensive list of stew ingredients and they were able to relate it to prior studies of Stone Soup that had occurred in every first grade classroom. They loved the different characters in the town and the voices they could use.

I guess my message today is this: go explore every row and try out new titles with students themselves. Let them be the judge of what’s good. We want students to grow, not simply be stagnant.

There are several places on the web with blogs and reviews of Fandango Stew, but the fact remains that if I hadn’t moseyed on down through the exhibit hall fringes, I’d never have found this delicious title.


  1. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this review. The way you used the book is exactly how I had hoped folks would use it. Thanks again!

  2. I read this book to my second graders recently and they loved it. I prefer books with sophisticated vocabulary! We were actually reading it as a Caldecott possibility because the artwork is fabulous too.

  3. Rita Painter says:

    I love this book, and so do my students! It’s my new favorite book!!

  4. awesome post, mind if I reblog it?