7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #219: Featuring Arthur Howard
and Author Liz Garton Scanlon and More than One
Experiment in Honesty and Kindness

h1 May 15th, 2011 by jules

I hope I don’t slight today’s featured picture book due to the fact that I’m typing this before leaving town for a work meeting. In other words, this has to be relatively short and sweet. (What? You’re laughing. I can actually be brief. On occasion.)

Fans of Cynthia Rylant’s Mr. Putter & Tabby series of chapter books may be happy to know, if you don’t already, that illustrator Arthur Howard’s cartoon watercolors are on display in Liz Garton Scanlon’s latest picture book, Noodle & Lou (Beach Lane Books, March 2011), which is all about…. Well, you know how you occasionally have those really low self-esteem, want-to-drag-your-ass-back-to-bed days, in which just about everthing you do makes you feel like an undeniable loser and the grass is always greener, no matter where you look, but along comes a kickin’-good friend to tell you that, indeed, you actually do rock and in quite possibly more ways than one? (These low-self-esteem moments happen to me way more often than a wiser person would admit.) Yeah. That. The book’s about that.


“His bright side was muddy. His high points sank low.
The grass grew much greener in other worms’ rows.”
(Note: The final published spread is slightly different from this one.
The publisher must have sent me an earlier version.)

One of the many things I like about Liz’s writing is that she goes to show you that you don’t always have to believe some of the do’s and don’t's about writing for children that fly out of the mouths of many, no matter how often they may be repeated. One of those would be: Stray from writing picture books in rhyme. Sure, lots of not-so-stellar picture books in rhyme get published annually (okay, well, a LOT do), but when it’s done well, it can be a delight. Liz is one of those who does it well, one obvious case-in-point being the 2010 Caldecott Honor book, All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Publishers Weekly describes Scanlon’s rhyming couplets in Noodle & Lou as “sturdy yet none-too-formal,” possessing “an unfaltering rhythm and gentle humor.”

Noodle, the one here needing some serious cheering, is a worm. Lou is a bird. They are best buds. Now, if you read the professional reviews on this one—and if there’s a negative one, I haven’t stumbled upon it; the book’s been uniformly praised—a few reviewers note the bizarro-ness (to be erudite about it) of a bird being best friends with a worm. (“{S}ome sticklers may question why Lou considers Noodle a best bud, rather than an appetizer,” wrote Publishers Weekly.) But it actually quite makes me laugh in all its absurdity. It’d be interesting to road-test this on a group of children to see their response to that, something I haven’t done yet, but the notion of a bird and worm as friends is funny (in the right way) to me—perhaps a bit slightly deranged (in a not-so-severe way)—and it just works. There’s even a wink-wink moment in the book in which Noodle says, “Birds think I’m a treat,” to which Lou looks at him knowingly to say, “You are pretty sweet.” Fantastic. And a little bit wonderfully surreal.


“This went on for a bit, each line like the last,
Noodle quite gloomy and Lou just steadfast.”

(Click to enlarge)


“But really, thought Noodle, the bigger surprise…”
(Click to enlarge)

This is a tribute to the bond you have with an encouraging friend. “Every kid should have a friend like Lou, and Noodle and Lou’s story shows just how it can be done,” wrote Booklist. And Howard’s loose, fluid watercolors are sunny and full of cheer. A real pick-me-up of a picture book about the ability of a true-blue friend to chase the blues away.

NOODLE & LOU. Copyright © 2011 by Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustration copyright © 2011 by Arthur Howard. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York. All images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

* * * * * * *

No kicks for me this week—I’m packing for a flight to Massachusetts, and most of my week has been filled with merely Getting Everything Done in advance of the trip—but I do hope you share your kicks this week. AND I will be back to read on Sunday. Here, though, to tide everyone over are seven very possible announcements before breakfast.

Actually, wait. You know. Honestly, this was my one big kick. It was like a stab in the heart to read that. It speaks great truth in my life. But I love the power of a poem to do that. (And Marie Howe’s work is familiar to me, though that poem wasn’t.)

Okay, announcements:

* Mitchell Silverman of The Giving Effect, a NYC start-up that represents 1,300 charities across the country, just launched an event to get 1,000 books to children in inner-city Detroit. “What’s unique about what we’re doing,” he told me, “is that donors print free postage to mail their books. It is an experiment in honesty and kindness.” Here is a link to the site.

* Many congratulations to J. Patrick Lewis on his appointment by The Poetry Foundation to his two-year tenure as the nation’s third Children’s Poet Laureate!


(Photo re-printed from my November 2010 interview with Mr. Lewis)

* Those interested in helping Guys Lit Wire support a library in need can find more information here.

* Artists from Pixar are teaching a Masterclass in Story Development & Animation this summer. This is an intensive, two-day class taught by what appear to be talented instructors. More information is here. A little birdie told me that the “Story Development” half of this masterclass is exceptional and always well-received by the attendees (and that even the animators are surprised by how much they get out of it).

* New York’s BreakThru Radio hosts a wide variety of on-demand radio shows, which include music, comedy, and literature. On one of their most popular shows, Radio Dispatch, brother and sister hosts John and Molly Knefel recently invited Dan Wilbur of Better Book Titles to discuss both Caroll’s Alice and Through the Looking Glass, not to mention The Little Prince. Haven’t heard it myself yet (I repeat: I haven’t heard it myself yet and have no idea how this conversation goes), but I’m sharing for interested folks. The link is here.

* The May issue of The Bluegrass Special is online with content, as always, re-printed from 7-Imp (this time three 7-Imp features … jump back!).

* Last, but far from least: Literacyhead, an online magazine integrating literacy education and the visual arts (more about them to come at a later date), is currently running a membership special. For the next two weeks, they are giving automatic upgrades to lifetime memberships whenever someone subscribes for one year. All the info you need is here.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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21 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #219: Featuring Arthur Howard
and Author Liz Garton Scanlon and More than One
Experiment in Honesty and Kindness”

  1. THANK YOU 7 Impossible Things! BTW-The links on the PDF of our b’day newsletter don’t seem to be working. May be an issue with my phone, but thought I’d post our video link just in case.

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=WbjtzsrlNAU

    Our kick this week…being included in a post about ALL THE WORLD–one of our favorites!

    http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=h0ehvCnSV3s


  2. Hi, Jan! I don’t know why it’s not working. Hmmm. I sent the flyer over to the blaine.org server, and it works for me. It may be that some people’s browsers won’t open PDFs. (I’m sure I just worded that all wrong; the tech portion of my brain doesn’t exist. I’ll ask my techy husband when he wakes!)


  3. Jan, those video links you posted don’t seem to work either. Hmmm….Do you mean this:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/4Literacyheads#p/a/u/0/WbjtzsrlNAU


  4. Once again I drop in after a gap, which actually makes my kicks-listing easier. So.

    1. Here’s the top secret kick from before which is no longer top secret: My husband has been selected to be the Director of the Center for Copyright and Digital Publishing at NC State University. This has a lot of positive implications – it’s an excellent job, but most importantly, it means we can afford to stay here where all of his family and my sister live.

    2. I graduated from library school. Yay me! (So did my husband.)

    3. AND! I won the Dean’s Achievement Award for best master’s paper!

    4. And my family came down to visit for graduation, which was lovely.

    5. In early June, I’ll be going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So excited!

    6. I’m doing really well with my two musical theatre pieces in voice lessons.

    7. And, despite having to work so hard on my classical piece (which will be my audition number for next year’s operetta), I have not thrown in the towel as I sometimes do when a thing doesn’t come natural to me.

    Have a lovely week, all!


  5. Wow, Kimberly…congrats to your husband on the job and to you on the library degree! Oh, and you on the paper, too. That is one kickin’ week right there is what that is. I’ve never heard of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Where’s that?


  6. I love the work of Arthur Howard and he captures Liz’s book wonderfully. I think some professional reviewers forget what it’s like to be a kid. They love the absurb and will find the friendship of Noodle and Lou fun.
    Jules, have a wonderful week.
    Kimberly, Congrats on your degree and what news for your husband.
    My kicks:
    1. Gardening this week.
    2, Getting over my asthma attack and my sinus infection.
    3. After school drama club is going well.
    4. Writing.
    5. The party crown given to me by a 5th grade girl.She’s gathered up treasures and delivered them on Monday to all female teachers inhonor of Mother’s Day (treasures included Bible verse, magnets, hand gel, etc. So from the heart)
    6. The smell of spring.
    7. I recieved a copy of Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room by Kelli Russell Agodon from Jama as a winner in the poetry contest.


  7. Jules, love Noodle and Lou and reading your thoughts about it. Have a great time in Massachusetts — it’s dressed up as its prettiest this week, with apple blossoms and lilacs.

    Kimberly, huge congratulations on all that good news.

    Jone, wear that party crown with pride. And I hope we get to smell spring for a while longer. I’m still giddy about seeing green.


  8. Hi, Jules. Sorry about the link confusions!

    Going to
    http://www.youtube.com/
    and searching for

    Literacyhead

    should bring up our 2 videos and Channel with great inspiration for this beautiful Sunday morning!


  9. Jone, glad you’re feeling less asthma’y. I think my seven-year-old is developing allergies, something I never really had to deal with. Also: DRAMA CLUB!

    Jeannine, it was great to have this company meeting (for once) in the Spring. It’s usually in JANUARY and so snowy. I don’t have time to sightsee. At all. But the little bit of Concord I saw in two busy days was gorgeous.


  10. ‘Morning, everyone — and welcome back from the haunted mansion, Jules!

    I remember Liz Garton Scanlon’s and Marla Frazee’s breakfast interview here from a couple years ago. And I still remember Liz’s photos — they’ve gotta be among my favorite pictures of somebody I’ve never met. (And until I wrote that sentence, I never even knew that category of pictures even existed. Which just goes to show you, well, something.)

    Sight unseen, I think my favorite thing about this book (aside from the text and kickin’ artwork) would be exactly what you talked about, Jules: the extremely unlikely friendship between a bird and a worm. I wouldn’t trade my likely friends for anything, but the unlikely ones challenge me in ways I wouldn’t dare challenge myself.

    Congratulations, Kimberly, on those great kicks — worth postponing a Kicks post for! :)

    jone, somehow when I read your kick #7 I missed the uppercase “L” in “Letters.” A couple of the words and phrases which followed thus rather confused me… but mostly, I was confused because I thought you’d received some facsimile ED *stationery* and also, and mainly, because I was so distracted by the utter coolness of such a thing. But the REAL kick #7 would be a close second!

    Kicks here…

    1. Likely friends. Always.

    2. Unlikely friends. When possible.

    3. Progress, even when measured in mere hundreds-of-words bursts of writing output… when such a burst is honest-to-gods fun to write. Doesn’t happen often but not to be sneered at when it does.

    4. The Missus just shared this with me — too cool not to pass on as an instant kick: a very Hobbit-like real-world home in Wales.

    5. Terry Pratchett. I don’t read one of his books right after the other — spread them out, maybe two or three a year; my hope is that this practice ensures that I’ll never run out of his books before I run out of time to read them.

    6. Because I go to bed fairly early every weeknight and Sunday night, I cede more or less complete authority over the TV remote control to The Missus six nights a week. On Saturday nights, when I actually care what we watch, I’d been doing this sort of compromise thing for years: “Let’s pick something we both want to see.” Which satisfies to some extent, but the truth is that my taste in movies tends to be a little off-center. So we worked out this deal: on Saturday nights, I wield the remote like a scepter. I may ask for input… but on a slate of candidate films that I myself (and perhaps I alone) really, really want to see. In recent weeks this has brought us stuff like the offbeat Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In, and, last night, both The Fantastic Mr. Fox (finally!) and Terence Stamp’s 1999 action film The Limey. Suddenly Saturday nights have a bit of motion-picture zing again!

    7. Wynton Marsalis on trumpet — playing classical music instead of jazz. Love the latter, but the former feels sublime.

    Have a great week, all!


  11. Jules: Hope you had a productive meeting! Thanks for sharing the link to Marie’s poem via Alison. Congratulations on having 3 pieces published in the Special!

    Hello to Liz (and Arthur, and Noodle & Lou!)

    Kimberly Kiba: I’m so happy for you, for him, for your family! I’m so proud of you. Wishing you the best with your pieces and programs.

    Jone: So glad to hear that you are feeling better. Glad that the drama club is rocking and rolling.

    Hi Jeannine!

    JES: I have yet to read or see Let the Right One In, or the American adaptation.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Table read
    2) Upgrade and name
    3) New IMDb credits
    4) Hope for future projects
    5) Dreams
    6) Do what you love
    7) Love what you do


  12. Thanks all for the kind words!

    jules, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure in Orlando. It’s been open for almost a year now, I think. I like to call it “Harry Potter Island.” Mainly because it annoys my brother, and annoying one’s brother is always fun.


  13. It’s great to read all these kicks. Congrats, Kimberly, on graduating from library school! I’ve got one big kick, and that is that it is Family Day at Seattle Opera, and we’re all going to see The Magic Flute. My daughter has been looking forward to this for a long time.

    Happy week, everyone!


  14. That Marie Howe poem … is killing me.
    But I ADORE Noodles & Lou. Have a great week, Jules.


  15. Aw, Jules. THIS is an awesome surprise!!! Thanks for having our little worm and bird over, and for saying such sweet things.

    And hi, everyone!!! And thank YOU guys for saying such sweet things!

    My kicks are:
    1. Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
    2. Jules
    3. Arthur Howard
    4. Noodle & Lou
    5. You all
    6. J. Patrick Lewis being named the new Children’s Poet Laureate
    7. Going to west Texas with three friends and seeing indigo buntings, painted buntings, Scott’s orioles, Wilson’s warblers, hummingbirds, cardinals, and on and on and on….

    Happy week to everyone! and Jules? Thanks again….


  16. John, love the notion of Insta-Kicks. I should compose seven one week that just insta-came-to-me. I’ve also always wanted to compose them like Little Willow — one-worded kicks one week. Or kicks that are one word for Monday to Sunday.

    John, loved reading about your Sat. night movie choices. Isn’t Fantastic Mr. Fox wonderful? And I was so happy my girls loved it, too. They request it all the time. Haven’t seen the others you named, but you often steer me in the right direction when it comes to movies.

    Little Willow, yes, the meeting was productive AND fun. I have the world’s best co-workers. No, really. I do. They are a blast, and I wish I saw them more than once a year. ….New IMDB credits! Congrats!

    Kimberly: Ah. I see. Thanks.

    Farida: Enjoy! That would be so lovely to see.

    Tanita: Right? That poem slays.

    Liz: I’ll have to look up indigo buntings, but I’m assuming it’s a bird. Sounds like you had a great time. And such great news about Pat, yes. I can’t wait to see what he does.


  17. Glad that the meeting went well on every level, Jules! Thanks for the congrats. WOOT!


  18. Jules, oh my, I went right to that poem, it resonates. Deeply.

    Love love love Noodle & Lou – those friends who see the bright side are damned important to have around.

    Kimberly – congrats to you and your husband!

    Jone – hooray for Oregon sunshine, gardening, and your asthma clearing up.

    JES – love your remote-control compromise. Nice that you completely enjoy when it’s your turn. : )

    LW – congrats on the IMDB credits! Woo-Hoo!

    Farida – hope the opera was fun!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Some days of enough sunshine to go running around the Willamette at lunch!
    2) All my veggies are planted on my small front porch garden. Heirloom tomatoes are included this year, we’ll see how they do.
    3) Long walks with ingrid in the sunshine.
    4) Went to my first Portland Timbers game last Friday (a week ago) – our seats were out of the rain and the Timbers won!
    5) Played in my first outdoor soccer game in years this past week. 90 minutes is a looooooong time to be running up and down a field, but it was a lot of fun.
    6) Read Houes of Discarded Dreams by Ekaterina Sedia. Interesting read…Now I’m reading The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone.
    7) Lunches with new friends that last for 3 hours.

    Have a great week everyone!


  19. Love Noodle & Lou. We have a few copies at my library, and they’ve been a-circulating very busily.


  20. Rachel, good luck with your tomatoes. We’ve planted some, too. Fingers crossed. I’m jealous of your good readin’ right now, too.

    Adrienne: That doesn’t surprise me.


  21. Rachel (rm): Thank you! Enjoy the sunshine (while wearing sunblock) and the veggies (at any time!)


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