It’s been 16 months since we began this journey to create a penguin picture book adventure about a sweet penguin named Noodles and his feisty friend Albie, but the Penguin Post is happy to report that at long last Noodles & Albie is finally, really, truly here. From the early reviews and receptions at readings, it was worth the wait. Small Batch Press did a wonderful job designing the book out with an original esthetic and yet at the same time with a timeless, classic, feel, and Liz Bannish’s fourteen glorious water color illustrations shine throughout.
The story behind Noodles & Albie evolved over many years. It was initially conceived by Penguin Gift Shop founder and long time penguin lover Eric Bennett as a bedtime story for his young daughters, Sophie and Rose. The tale was originally called The Fish & The Penguin, or the Fishy Penguin Story, and was mostly told and re-told from Eric’s memory and imagination. The title and plot was ever changing depending on who the story was being read to and how much time Eric had to devote to the telling.
A couple of years back for a fun winter project with his daughter Sophie the story was finally put down on paper.
Then in January 2013 Eric was “volunteered” by his youngest daughter Rose to read a story to her kindergarten class. Rather than read something from their bookshelf, Eric decided to at long last put The Fish & The Penguin to paper for real and read his time tested penguin adventure to Rose’s class. But, this time he decided to name main characters, Noodles & Albie. Noodles (Eric’s nickname since he was a kid) & Albie (the nickname of his friend Melissa) was finally settled on so as not to upset either Sophie or Rose, as well as to give the characters a bit more personality than the generic “Fish & Penguin”. Besides, it seemed from the start that the names Noodles & Albie fit the story perfectly. The reading to Ms. Bussone’s kindergarten class that cold winter morning was met with much fanfare. With an unprecedented standing ovation from a kindergarten class!
A small Noodles & Albie buzz was now in the air, with Eric getting requests for printed copies of the story from a few children and parents at Bridge St. School. It didn’t take much coaxing for Eric to do an additional reading for the schools other kindergarten and first grade classes, which were again very well received. A short time later, the story was brought to the attention of his friend and local artist Liz Bannish. She was so intrigued by the charming penguin tale and colorful characters that naturally Eric inquired if she would be interested in illustrating the story. To his surprise Liz said sure, and the two began to collaborate on bringing Noodles, Albie and their undersea world to life.
Over the following weeks Liz’s illustrations went from Eric’s black and white storyboard sketches to a series of beautifully detailed watercolor paintings, capturing the essence of the story with Liz’s unique take on the characters that inhabit it.
During this time Eric and Liz shopped for a publisher and after lots of wrangling and false starts Noodles and Albie finally found a home with Small Batch Books. Being first time authors we decided to take our time the last couple of months to make sure everything turned out the way we wanted, and we’re happy to say we think it did. We hope you do too.
So if you have kids, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends that have kids or if your kid is going to a birthday party. We think Noodles & Albie is the perfect gift for you and that little penguin lover in all of us.