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NOODLE MAN

THE PASTA SUPERHERO

Sayre’s (Shadows, p. 189, etc.) enjoyable introduction to pasta is couched as a quick-thinking, tongue-in-cheek adventure yarn. It revolves around the Dente family (puns abound here), who—gentle and kind as they may be—are having a hard time succeeding in the family business of making pasta. Pizza has taken over the town’s dinnertime. Al, the oldest son, has tried other professions—dentistry, auto mechanics—but his pasta bent has always sunk him: his teeth look like elbow macaroni, his radiator fan is made of farfalle. Then he has a brainstorm: He makes a portable pasta-maker to hawk his wares about town. Still, no one is buying. But Al does put his machine to good use, spewing out angel-hair pasta to foil bank robbers, shooting out a ribbon of lasagna noodle to serve as a slide to save people from a burning building, squeezing out fusilli to use as springs to bounce over floodwaters. In a final act of bravery, Al saves the pizza-delivery girl, and the town finally understands it has a pasta superhero on its hands. They also relearn a love of the stuff. Wildly playful artwork, from its Mediterranean colors to its characters’ dreamy eyelids, melds with Sayre’s goofy story, which will surely inspire readers to experiment with noodle shapes and—beware—to play with their food. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-229307-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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