Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: Noodles' and Albie's Birthday Surprise by Eric Bennett

by Eric Bennett
Illustrated by Milanka Reardon
Penguin Place
Picture Book
ages 3+


Noodles' & Albie's Birthday Surprise is the continuing adventures of Noodles (a penguin) and Albie (his fish friend). The story takes place on the day of Noodles birthday, which happens to be December 24th. While waiting for his party to start, Noodles and his friends play on the ice while a group of red jacket wearing tourists from a nearby cruise ship take the penguins pictures. Meawhile, his friend Albie is under the sea searching for the perfect birthday gift for Noodles. She eventually comes across an old compass from a sunken treasure chest, which is perfect for Noodles as in the first Noodles & Albie story (2014), he had some major sense of direction issues. After giving Noodles his comapss, the two friends head off for a day at Polar Kingdom, the world's greatest undersea amusement park. After a fun day, the pair begin their journey home, but soon notice a red glow up ahead on the oceans surface. The glow it turns out is coming from the nose of one of the strange animals they come across stranded on an ice floe, along with a mysterious red jacket wearing "tourist" with a white beard, and a sled full of boxes. It turns out the mysterious tourist is lost because his assistants insisted he try a GPS devise to help guide him. Now the chubby, old man is hopelessly lost. Not only is he lost, but he's on a deadline, and he's in Antarctica. He can't find his way back on track because it's always daylight in Antarctica in December, and the poor tourist can't even see the North Star to navigate. He needs to get North and fast. Will Noodles help the lost tourist by giving him his compass? 


This is a cute story of penguins, friendship and a dash of Christmas magic, which is sure to warm even the most frozen mood.

It's Noodles birthday, and in perfect penguin style,he spends the day frolicking with his polar friends. When his best friend Albie invites him under the sea for a birthday gift and a trip to the Polar Kingdom, an unexpected adventure begins.

My favorite thing about this book are the illustrations. They are lovingly drawn with just the right amount of detail to demand attention again and again. The youngest 'readers' will enjoy glancing through and able to see their own story come through every time.

Friendship plays a key role as Noodles and Albie enter an exciting adventure, one which is perfect for the intended audience. Even when facing trouble, the two stick together as true friends should.

The writing fluctuates between quite a bit of text on some pages to barely any on others as the pace of the story demands. This creates a lovely balance between the illustrations and written word, especially when handled as a read-aloud.

The Kris Kringle bonus toward the end of the adventure makes this a lovely read for Christmas. There's a bit of a modern twist and the explanation surrounding the mishap was a bit long, but it adds a cute twist to Noodles' and Albie's day, and is sure to draw some comments from the listeners.

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