soup of the day: noodle & lou by liz garton scanlon and arthur howard!

Callooh, Callay!

It’s time to tip our caps to Liz Garton Scanlon and Arthur Howard! Their brand new picture book, Noodle & Lou (Beach Lane Books, 2011), is officially out today!

What’s that? You don’t have a cap?

No probs. Help yourself:

(Please leave your caps on for the duration of this post so you can really strut your stuff. Oh, and if you wanna be extra cool and channel Noodle, wear it backwards or sideways-sassy. Lookin’ good!)

So what’s up with these two? Noodle the earthworm wakes up one morning with a “rain-cloudy” heart. It happens to all of us sometimes — just feelin’ blue and down on ourselves. It’s a good thing Noodle has his good friend Lou to lean on. A finer, kinder, more supportive blue jay was never to be found. For every negative feeling Noodle has, Lou puts a positive spin on it:

“My head has no eyes,”
Noodle said, feeling glum.

“So, life’s a surprise!”
Lou said to his chum.

“And I don’t have a beak,”
said Noodle, quite blue.

“But you’re long, and so sleek, which is perfect for you!”


Ah, that Lou. Right there when Noodle needs him, and every bit sincere:

“I’m dirty and mucky!”
“You’re wiggly and plucky.”
“I’m skinny and bare.”
“With your own special flair.”

After going back and forth like this for awhile, Noodle eventually feels better. He realizes that despite “All those high-flyin’ types . . . Lou-Bird likes me!”

It’s easy to love this wholly satisfying story of an unlikely friendship. Who are we without our friends? Lucky for us, they’re there when we need them, have the uncanny ability to alter our perceptions and lift us right up. Liz’s pitch perfect rhyming text, chock full of chewy, crunchy words like “plucky,” “slither,” and “jaunty,” hums right along and packs some extra punch — we gain new appreciation for the lowly earthworm, and realize that sometimes seemingly natural enemies can indeed be friends. Good to know that anything is possible if we keep our minds and hearts open.

Arthur Howard, best known for the Mister Putter & Tabby series, has successfully created an earthworm oozing with personality. Not an easy task, to be sure, but with a few strokes and a strategically placed, oversized baseball cap, Arthur’s Noodle arouses empathy and engages the reader right away. Noodle’s emotional transformation is underscored by an ever-changing skyscape, warming colors and varying perspectives. Fun to see a worm’s eye view of the world, and indeed, this story gives new meaning to the expression, “bird’s eye view,” especially if that bird is your best buddy.

Caps still on? ☺

Liz says the story was inspired by a real-life incident:

The idea for Noodle & Lou came from a real worm, crawling in the muck under shrubs near our house after a rain storm. Worms are so important, I thought. And then I laughed. Because they are, but they’re also just skinny, slimy, silent, beige little creatures. Not a lot going for them at first glance. Once I started writing, I thought, Who better to notice the attributes of a worm than a bird? Odd couples make for good stories because of how their attributes (and quirks) stand out in contrast to each other.

Noodle & Lou has already received some glowing reviews. Publishers Weekly liked Howard’s touches of visual humor, and Kirkus said, “Howard’s cartoon-style illustrations match the bouncy rhythm of Scanlon’s couplets perfectly and keep the tone light. Lou has scratchy eyebrows and big feet and sports a sweet smile on his sharp beak. Noodle’s squiggly body language manages to effectively convey his changing emotions, and a few big-eyed bugs in the background provide additional visual appeal.” Yay!

Adjust your caps; here comes the tasty part. ☺

The alphabet soup kitchen helpers have prepared a special bowl of celebration soup just for Liz and Arthur. All ingredients are 100% certified organic and the noodles were vetted for strut-worthiness. At the count of three, please join me in congratulating Liz and Arthur by tipping your caps and letting out a big cheer.

Ready? One . . . two . . . three —


Okay, that was terrible. Let’s try it again. One . . . two . . . three —


WooHoo! That was awesome. Now we can eat!

Today’s Special: Forever Friends Cap-A-Soup (seasoned with blue skies, optimism and a rain drop or two). 

Can I just say how much I love the name, “Noodle”? No, I don’t want to eat any worms, but I’m craving some noodles on the side:

a little Italian,


some Japanese,

James Rubio/flickr

and some Chinese Bird’s Nest Noodles (a true union of the two main characters):

Keep your caps on, we’ve also got dessert.

Blue Jay Cupcakes,

Beautiful Cakes/flickr

Buggy Cookies:

and a teeny Cookie Worm, compliments of Mr. Noodle himself:

Okay, it’s time to call your best bud and fly over to your local indie or click through to your fave online bookseller to score your very own copy (or two or three) of Noodle & Lou. If you go to a bricks and mortar store, wear something blue (preferably with feathers) and don’t forget your baseball cap. Here’s the important part: Look straight at the cashier and pay him/her a sincere compliment.


“I like the shape of your head.”
“You look well-read.”
“Thank you for trimming your nose hairs today.”
“You should be in the movies.”

Don’t be surprised if you get a triple discount. If this happens, buy more books!!

Happy Book Birthday, Liz and Arthur! 

written by Liz Garton Scanlon
illustrated by Arthur Howard
published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, March 2011
Full color picture book for ages 3-6, 32 pp.
Cool themes: friendship, self-acceptance, birds, worms, bugs, support and encouragement.

♥ Check out Liz Garton Scanlon’s official website and Live Journal blog, Liz in Ink. Don’t miss the totally awesome Curriculum Guide prepared by Natalie Dias Lorenzi, which contains fabulous classroom activities as well as interviews with both Liz and Arthur!

♥ Book Launch for Noodle & Lou will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2011, at Book People in Austin, Texas, from 12:00 – 1 p.m.


Resident bears give Noodle & Lou a resounding three paws UP!

*Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2011 Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrations © Arthur Howard, published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.



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