Illustrated by Arthur Howard
Beach Lane Books, 2011
$15.99, ages 2-6, 32 pages
Noodle the worm wakes up with a rain-cloudy heart, fretting about all of the things he doesn't like about himself.
"His bright side was muddy. His high points sank low. / The grass grew much greener in other worms' rows."
So he does exactly what a Noodle should do. He leans on his pal Lou, a blue jay with a big heart.
Noodle unloads on Lou all of his insecurities: how he doesn't have eyes, feet or feathers, how he lives in dirt and how most birds think he's a snack (though, definitely not Lou).
Then Lou tells Noodle that life's a surprise and reminds him of what he admires about him: Noodle, he says, you're long and sleek, wiggly and plucky, and all of these things make you complete. How could a worm be a worm without any of these?
What a boost, what a friend, thinks Lou. But the bigger surprise? "Seeing yourself through your best buddy's eyes."
Here's a buddy book beyond compare written by the author of last year's best-seller, All the World. The back-and-forth between the two is a delight, with Noodle's deprecating words always getting a positive replay from his unshakable friend.
This is one of those books that leaves you wishing for a Lou of your own and to remain grounded in the happy side of life. And the message for all who've felt like Noodle? Love who you are, no matter how different you feel.
(And to all those blue jays who've been maligned for being churlish and snappy, fear not, you've got a poster boy in Lou.)