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Mrs. Noodlekugel Hardcover – April 24, 2012
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—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Daniel Pinkwater does not deal in pathos but in nutty good humor, and he has pitched the gently zany tale of MRS. NOODLEKUGEL at 5- to-7-year-olds who are just getting confident with chapter books... With occasionally tricky vocabulary, such as "ventriloquist" and "sanitary," this is just the sort of book to make a young reader feel adept.
—The Wall Street Journal
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle meets Mary Poppins.
In novels and picture books we’ve seen Pinkwater in a variety of modes—absurd, satirical, anarchic, deadpan, funny-melancholy. In this offering, an early chapter book, we see yet another color in his palette: cozy... Stower’s pencil drawings perfectly echo the joyous insouciance of this benign—if surreal—backyard world.
—The Horn Book
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Top Customer Reviews
In the tradition of MRS PIGGLE-WIGGLE and MARY POPPINS, this is a charming and delightful "magical babysitter" story.
The problem is that the publisher's info page of the book makes no mention of the ages for which it's suited. Upon further research online, it is listed for the 5 to 10 age group, but again, just be aware that this is for young beginning readers. They will likely be the only ones excited about the story. (Both my older girls tried reading the book. My nine-year-old brought it back to me after a couple of pages, declaring it a book for babies and utterly annoying. My seven-year-old persevered to the end, declaring it a cute story, but written for "little kids." She hadn't heard her sister's scorn of the book, as she was asleep the night her sister tried to read it.)
The text is accessible for those on the cusp of attempting chapter books. It is also much more appealing than typical books at this reading level. I don't know if he intended this but, Pinkwater has managed to craft this story in a manner that is gender neutral. As a classroom teacher, this is something I value. Many books aimed at this audience are clearly targeted for a specific gender which limits its usefulness.
The illustrations remind me of Chris Van Duesen's work in The Circus Ship as well as the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Mrs. Pickerell Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars of my childhood.
First as to age appropriateness. The publisher recommends this to age 5+ and that is an appropriate age as a read-aloud. I think the perfect reading level group would be 7-9. However, my struggling reader is 12 and he found the story funny, not babyish at all. This is the extreme age range though.
This is a light-hearted quick read. Mrs. Noodlekugel is more reminiscent of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle than Mary Poppins. She's not exacly magical but her world is eccentirc and filled with magical realities such as a talking/walking pet cat and mice who help bake cookies. The story is simple enough in that Nick and Maxine discover Mrs.N's house and go for a visit. The only thing troublesome is that they sneak over when their parents have expressly told them not to and the janitor shows them the secret entrance to the backyard while then promptly saying "not to tell their parents". This raised eyebrows in my son as he knows that when a grown-up says not to tell your parents, that is a bad sign and you should immediately tell your parents what that grown-up does not want you to tell. He also wasn't impressed with the children's outright disobedience. This and the parent's eventual cover-up that they tricked them into sneaking over there slightly spoiled the story for us, but otherwise we both enjoyed the tale. It was cute and silly; Mrs. NoodleKugel is a dotty, otherworldly, friendly old-lady who makes a fun babysitter.
The Larry the Polar Bear books and the Irving and Muktuk books are ideal for starting readers who can follow the slightly skewed action. "The Werewolf Club" is for a slightly older crowd. You have the Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl series for even older readers, and The Education of Robert Nifkin is one of the best YA titles around.
This book falls into a middle grade category, I think. It is informed by Pinkwater's signature narrative style - an oddly formal yet whimsical approach that treats even the most unusual situations as perfectly normal and unremarkable, which has the effect of transforming the mundane, trivial and commonplace into something strange and magical. Who knew that cheerful oddness could be so refreshing and revealing?
All of this works because of the characters Pinkwater favors. Regardless of the ages all of his protagonists are capable, resourceful, unflappable and mildly bemused by events. They are armed with keen insight. They are also curious and courageous, and completely attuned to the absurdity around them. Whether it's a giant chicken, a lizard musical band, a cat-whiskered girl, or an alien hamburger stand, these heroes and heroines bravely step forward to see "what the heck this is all about".
A whole lifetime of books about embracing life, living it fully, and enjoying the experience.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We got the book for our first grader, but I ended up reading it aloud to him- more that once. Daniel Pinkwater writes a bit of humor for everyone, and the big siblings -both... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Amy C Sheridan
My daughter took this book out at the library and loved it. Now she is reading it to herself on her kindlePublished 24 months ago by maureen staley
It was a little short for me at a level V reading level but I loved the story in all.Published on February 5, 2014 by DJK
We read this book aloud at bedtime. It read quite choppy and seemed unfinished. Overall not a good story. We were disappointed.Published on May 11, 2013 by Tina M. Williams
This was a good 1st chapter book. It has some pictures and my 4 year old son liked hearing the story. The talking cat and 4 mice made it fun and I liked the fantasy in the story. Read morePublished on April 10, 2013 by JessicaJ