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Friday, April 15, 2011

Noodle & Lou, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Arthur Howard. Beach Lane, Simon & Schuster. 2011. $18.99 ages 2 and up

"This went on for a bit,
each line like the last,
Noodle quite gloomy
and Lou just steadfast.
But Lou meant every word -
even Noodle could see.
All those high-flyin' types,
and Lou-bird likes me!"

I count my blessings every day for the friends in my life....I have 'Lous' there for me whenever I need them! I don't often wake up with a 'rain-cloudy' heart as Noodle did one day. Each one of us has had a similar experience. When we are feeling blue and down in the dumps, we need a friend to help us see things in a different light. Lou is just the ticket!

Lou is a strong and faithful blue jay, there for Noodle when needed and offering sage and honest counsel.
Noodle is a worm who's finding the grass greener anywhere than at his place. Each one of his complaints is matched by Lou's optimism:

""I'm dirty and mucky!'
"You're wiggly and plucky."
"I'm skinny and bare."
"With your own special flair.""

It takes a while and some perseverance. It's a friendship that is cause for surprise as anyone who spouts the adage about early birds and worms would know. Lou is a friend that we all want to have. Who would we be without them? 

The rhyming couplets are just right...filled with wondrous words and moving along with precision and perspicacity. I love her work, and kids will love it, too. I wish all those who don't seem suited to a brilliant friendship could take a lesson from these two. Arthur Howard has created an earthworm to love, baseball cap and pride intact when all is said and done. We empathize with his plight, delight in his friendship with Lou and will want to visit with him again. Lou is a loving, bright-eyed, and hardly raucous, jay with an abiding love for his good friend. Bravo!

In an interview, Liz Scanlon tells her readers that her story was inspired by a real-life event:

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.

So, that's where authors get their ideas!

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