cover image Noodle Magic

Noodle Magic

Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illus. by Meilo So. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-52167-3

Mei’s grandfather Tu is a master noodle maker, and his noodles are not just for eating. They can be anything, from jump ropes to kite strings. When he says it’s Mei’s turn to make magic noodles for the emperor’s birthday, she’s baffled. “Magic must come from within,” he tells her. As Mei works, Grandpa Tu offers her encouragement, and after a tug-of-war with none other than the Moon Goddess perched in the moon above, Mei makes enough noodles to feed everybody: “The sky rained noodles.” So’s (Brush of the Gods) exuberantly drawn and tinted illustrations feature the curves of traditional Chinese architecture, vignettes of village life, and rhythmic movement, as noodles fall in fanciful, calligraphic curlicues. Thong’s (Round Is a Tortilla) text features two themes that seem at cross-purposes. One is the reality-based theme of passing down traditional knowledge, with an emphasis on sensory experience; the other is a folklore-style fantasy in which anything can happen. So while it’s a tasty morsel of Chinese culinary culture, the action can be hard to follow. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Sally Heflin, Heflinreps. (Nov.)