Slip, sloop, slurp. Twirl, wrap, spin. Open up wide, shove the pasta in!
Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there at first.
Only one more day to celebrate National Noodle Month. Have you had your share of spaghetti, ramen, lo mein, kugel, udon, chap chae, and kuksoo? And while we’re at it, what about yakisoba, pancit and pad thai?
Sigh. So many noodles. So little time.
What to do? Boil some linguini, read some pasta picture books, and declare every month, noodle month!
Here, twirl these around on your fork: *smacks lips*
Everybody Brings Noodles by Norah Dooley, pictures by Peter J. Thornton (Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 2002). It’s the Fourth of July, and everyone in Carrie’s neighborhood is getting ready for a block party. It was her idea, and while she’s excited that so many people are bringing noodle dishes (her favorite), she’s disappointed that all the preparations have kept her so busy, she won’t be able to participate in the talent show. The story mainly serves as a vehicle for introducing the multiethnic characters in the neighborhood, who bring tantalizing batches of pasta pesto, orzo, zaru soba, sesame noodles, and kugel. Thornton’s pastel illos capture the busyness and anticipation of a friendly holiday celebration, while seven yummy noodle recipes will definitely extend the enjoyment of this book. (ages 5+)
Noodle Man: The Pasta Superhero by April Pulley Sayre, pictures by Stephen Castanza (Orchard Books, 2002). If you like your pasta exuberant, zany, and pun-wonderful, this is the book for you. Al Dente’s family is in the pasta making business. But it seems the neighbors in Durum have stopped eating fresh pasta in favor of pizza delivery. Al does not want their business to fail, so he invents a portable fresh pasta making machine. Though he doesn’t do very well peddling pasta door to door, his wondrous noodles come in handy when it comes to catching thieves, rescuing people from a burning building, and helping people sproing across a flooded street. Kids will giggle over Noodle Man’s exploits and love Castanza’s frantic, eye popping watercolor illustrations. Wouldn’t you love a grandma who knits sweaters from spaghetti? (ages 4-8)
On Top of Spaghetti, written and illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson, with lyrics by Tom Glazer (Scholastic Press, 2006). A hilarious adaptation of the original song/parody, that has Yodeler Jones, a hound who owns the Spaghetti Emporium and Musicale, eager to upgrade his menu by creating “the most dee-licious meatball this side of Sicily.” It’s all because a fried fritter fricassee parlor has opened next door, stealing all his business, which consists of a motley but endearing crew of animal friends. Of course there are a couple of big sneezes that send Jones’ meatball a-flying, with side-splitting results. Johnson’s illos captivate and engage with grand explosions of action and color. Includes full lyrics and a recipe for Yodeler’s Spaghetti and Meatballs. (ages 4-8)
The Story of Noodles by Ying Chang Compestine, pictures by YongSheng Xuan (Holiday House, 2002). A lively, fetching tale of the three Kang brothers, who inadvertently “invent” mian tiao (flour strips), while they’re supposed to be making dumplings for an annual cooking contest. Kids will love how a trio of mischievous boys manages to turn a misadventure into a winning dish. Xuan’s papercut illos with bold outlines resemble stained glass, and presents interesting details about ancient Chinese village life. An Author’s Note discusses the origin of noodles, and a tempting recipe for Long-Life Noodles will make kids want to “eat a drumstick,” “suck a worm,” and “cut the grass,” just like the Kang brothers. (ages 4-8)
Siggy’s Spaghetti Works by Peggy Thomson (Tambourine Books, 1993). Tag along as Siggy takes seven eager kids on a tour of his spaghetti factory, to see how dried pasta is made and packaged. The engaging narrative describes all the machinery used in the process, from the gigantic flour silos to the pasta cutters and dryers. The kids in the book react via speech balloons, and there are numerous sidebars full of interesting facts and tidbits.
Also included: types of pasta and some of the dies used to cut the different shapes, some pasta history, a Chinese noodle-making demonstration via step-by-step diagrams, a talking dog and pig, and a non-gratuitous mention of alphabet pasta. Kamen’s ink and watercolor illos and diagrams are wonderfully detailed, with each page turn offering a delightful blend of fun and fact. Love the final double page spread where everyone eats their homework, and Siggy’s pasta-themed wallpaper! (age 5+)