Title: Inside the Slidy Diner
Author: Laurel Snyder
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Age Range: 2nd-5th Grade
Meet Edie, who visited the Slidy Diner and was never able to leave. She'd really like for you to join her there. Edie recounts her many experiences living at the Slidy Diner, a place where the old men at the counter smell like mice, and you don't want to know what the crunchy topping is on the pumpkin asparagus pie. Snyder has created a creepy, gross, slightly dark world that kids who are into creepy and gross will definitely love.
I LOVE this book! I was introduced to it by a very good friend of mine as a part of a writing training, and I have used it every year since when teaching how to write good descriptions. Snyder's use of language is stunning. She describes the colors on the wall as "the color of your grandma's slippers", and some of the dishes on the menu are Lumps and Dumplins and Greasily Niblets. This book is definitely sort of gross, but in a more mature way than your average Captain Underpants. Not that I have a problem with Captain Underpants, mind you, but that grossness is more designed to appeal to the sense of humor of the average eight year old boy, whereas the grossness in The Slidy Diner is more designed to create this slightly malevolent, grimly humorous mood throughout the whole story.
After reading this book with students, I bring in a collection of restaurant menus, and we analyze the way that menu descriptions are different than, say, an essay. Then the students imagine a meal that might be served at The Slidy Diner, and after they draw it they write their own menu description. I have yet to have a class that didn't get totally into this activity. They love coming up with gross meals like "spaghetti and eyeballs" or "toenail and booger stew". The trick is to describe them so that people would actually want to order them!
Given the rich language of the story, I think that this book could also work as a close reading lesson, either as a read aloud or an independent read. So invite your students into the world of The Slidy Diner, where there are "dark blue secrets and silver whispers"
Laurel Snyder's Website