Roseanne Greenfield Thong
illustrated by Meilo So
NOODLE MAGIC has won an Honor (Silver Award) for the California Reading Association’s Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award.
In this slurp-worthy picture book, Mei loves to watch Grandpa Tu create noodles spun out of dough, magic and plenty of heart. The emperor’s birthday approaches, and Mei’s village buzzes with preparations. Grandpa Tu, a master noodle maker, enchants Mei with show-stopping dexterity, as he slaps, kneads and stretches plain dough into wondrous noodles. Mei asks if he can make jump ropes or kite strings from noodles. He answers with poetic wit—”Simple as a sunflower seed” and “Easy as a sea breeze”—and works through the night with abandon. When it’s time for the emperor’s long-life noodles, a birthday tradition, to be made, the villagers are surprised to learn Grandpa Tu isn’t making them. Instead, he says it’s time for Mei to learn the art of magic noodle making herself. This intergenerational relationship endears from the start, and readers will want not only a plate of noodles, but a grandpa like Tu. Thong plants a playful, repeated rhythm to describe his technique (“SLAP, knead and stretch”), which grows organically with Mei’s discovery of her own talents. So’s rich watercolor illustrations radiate affection between the two, especially when they stretch noodles in a cats-cradle-like fashion or across the gutter in a vigorous culinary workout. And animal-shaped noodles, in the forms of cats, roosters and a dragon, add whimsy and elegance.Playing with your food has never been quite so enticing. (Picture book. 4-8)
KIRKUS REVIEWS – OCTOBER 1, 2014