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The Have a Good Day Cafe

The Have a Good Day Cafe: Summary

Mike's family runs a food cart on a busy corner near a city park. Despite the family's Korean/American heritage, the food they sell is popular American fare including hot dogs, pizza, and bagels. When Grandma comes to live with the family, she is lonely and homesick for Korea. At the same time, the family business slows down because two other food carts park on the same street. Then Mike comes up with an idea: he and Grandma will cook Korean dishes to sell from the cart. Mike also makes a sign renaming the cart the Have a Good Day Cafe, because that is what his parents always say to customers after they make a purchase. In no time, business improves as customers line up to try the delicious smelling food. More importantly, Grandma begins to feel at home as she makes an important contribution to the family's life. Source

Reading Skills: 

prediction, cause and effect, inference, problem/ solution, character traits


cart daydream, customers, competition, license 

Build Background on Food Carts


identity, grandparents, hard work, cooking/food 

Possible Discussion Questions 

Before Reading

  • This book is about a little boy whose family owns and operates a food cart. Look carefully at the pictures of the different food carts. What do you think is difficult about this job? What do you think is interesting about this job? 
  • In thinking about what you know about the topic, what do you predict will be the main problem in the story? How do you expect this problem to be solved? 
  • One of the characters on the cover seems to be a Grandma. Do you live with your grandparents? What role can grandparents play in your life? 

During Reading 

  • In the beginning of the story, Grandma does not seem very happy? Why do you think she is unhappy?
  • Mom and Dad do not want Grandma to help. Instead they tell her to rest. How does this make Grandma feel?
  • In the story Mike says he wishes Grandma wouldn't daydream about the past so much. What do you think he means by this? Why do you think he feels this way?
  • What is the major problem in the story? What are some suggestions you would have for Mike's parents to help solve their problem?
  • One suggestion is to move their cart to another location. Why won't this solution work?
  • Grandma and Mike seem to have a solution for the family's problem. What do you think it is?

After Reading

  • Grandma and Mike's suggestion turned out to save the business. What was their idea and why do you think it was so successful?
  • At the end of the story Mike says he thinks Grandma is feeling "right at home now." What do you think he means by that?
  • Do you think Grandma is happy in her new country? Why or why not?

Possible Response Activities

  • Owning your own business has many pros and cons. Alone or with a partner: make a list of the pros of owning your own business such as a restaurant or store and the cons that may come along with it. 
  • Imagine you and your family owned your own food cart. Design what the cart would look like and pick a location in your neighborhood or city where you would like to apply for a license. What kind of food would you serve? Create a menu complete with food items and prices.
  • Grandma saved the day in this story. Reflect on how sometimes older relatives know best, using details from this story and from your own experience.

Writing Activities

  • Mike's family had a big problem and they worked together to solve it. Has your family ever had a big problem? Write a narrative about a time when your family had to come together to solve a problem.
  • Grandma and Mike persuaded Mom and Dad to serve Korean food from their street cart. Write a persuasive letter or speech from Mike to his parents that lists the reasons why Korean food will sell better than American food. Use details from the text and your own experience to support your thinking.

Additional Resources

Printable Version

Materials from the Publisher