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NOODLE MAN: The Pasta Superhero

April Pulley Sayre, Author, Stephen Costanza, Illustrator , illus. by Stephen Costanza. Scholastic/Orchard $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-439-29307-5

Aptly named Al Dente repeatedly saves his small town, not with a cape or the quickness of a speeding bullet but with the aid of durum wheat and water in Sayre's (Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out!) tall tale, which extols the virtues of tortellini, ravioli and spaghetti—as well as ingenuity. Al's penchant for pasta gets him thrown out of dentistry (he makes false teeth from macaroni) and expelled from automotive school (he replaces car parts with lasagna and other pastas). However, his resourceful use of angel hair helps him tie up a gang of smalltime crooks and his fusilli allows the townsfolk to escape a flood (using the corkscrew pasta as springs). Al Dente's neighbors soon give up their favorite meal—pizza by delivery—to flock to his family's once-struggling store for Mama Dente's Powerful Pasta Sauce and Grandma Dente's Perfect Parmesan ("Sales went through the roof, and almost as fast as pasta boils, the family business was saved!"). The text grows overly lengthy at times, repeating what the illustrations convey with energy and wit. Newcomer Costanza creates a cozy urban community of row houses in sherbet colors with striped awnings, neat back yards and a park where neighbors gather. The soft palette and slightly rounded figures hark back to a bygone era, and his shifting perspectives of people bouncing on fusilli above the rooftops, and streets that twist like spaghetti strands escalate the fun, frivolous mood. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/08/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
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