Noodlephant

Jacob Kramer, illus. by K-Fai Steele. Enchanted Lion, $18.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-59270-266-4
Kramer tackles political oppression with wit, inventiveness, and a love of good food. Noodlephant the elephant is so named by her crowd of friends, who treasure her love of pasta and the way she cooks for every sort of animal—except the kangaroos, who would rather spend their time making unfair laws. Things head downhill when the kangaroos dictate that Elephants must eat only sticks and branches—enjoying pasta means time in the zoo. Throughout, sly verse interludes capture the animals’ subversive spirit: “The laws for elephants and shrews/ ...should be the same as those we use,/ for all you wealthy kangaroos.” Noodlephant and her friends come up with a machine that turns everything into pasta (“cans into cannelloni, pillows into ravioli”), but their creativity lands Elephant in the zoo. The story’s casual disregard for narrative logic—why not just buy eggs and flour if you’re going to break the law?—will baffle some readers and charm others. Graceful black ink lines and bold color wash by newcomer Steele give the story even more comic force, capturing the joy of Elephant’s parties, the bleakness of her imprisonment, and her satisfaction as she finds a way to outwit her oppressors. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/26/2018
Release date: 01/01/2019
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