cover image Mrs. Noodlekugel

Mrs. Noodlekugel

Daniel Pinkwater, illus. by Adam Stower. Candlewick, $14.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5053-7

Not long after siblings Nick and Maxine move into a new high-rise home, they discover that right behind their building, surrounded by skyscrapers, is a tiny, incongruously idyllic cottage. With help from Mike the janitor (who “sat in a little room in the basement, eating stewed tomatoes out of a can, talking to himself, and listening to the radio”), they make their way to the cottage. Mrs. Noodlekugel is grandmotherliness personified, with white hair, a dotted apron, a Mrs. Claus face, and a penchant for baking gingerbread. What’s more, she’s at least a little magical, having trained her cat, Mr. Fuzzface, to talk and some farsighted mice to help out in the kitchen. Stower’s (Snowball Fight!) illustrations have an old-fashioned sweetness, while Pinkwater, ever the effortless storyteller, adds just enough bite with his signature deadpan, loopy humor. Much like Grace Lin in Ling & Ting, Pinkwater works narrative magic within the grammatical confines of the early reader format—readers should find Mrs. Noodlekugel’s world delightful and instantly familiar, and look forward to future installments. Ages 5–10. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Arena Illustration. (Mar.)