Cover image for Noodle man : the pasta superhero
Noodle man : the pasta superhero
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, c2002.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : color illustrations.
Reading Level:
570 L Lexile
Added Author:
Al Dente's invention of a portable pasta machine turns him into a superhero and helps to save the family fresh pasta business.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book EASY SAY 1 1

On Order



With his spaghetti-thin arms and farfalle tie, Al Dente might not look like a superhero, but never underestimate the power of pasta. It's served up with antic illustrations and outrageous puns.

Pasta is the passion of the Dente family. The business is a fresh-pasta deli, but business, frankly, is slow. The neighbors in the town of Durum are ordering pizzas, not pasta. So their son, Al Dente, has a brilliant idea: the world's first adjustable, portable, fresh-pasta maker. Unfortunately, he is no good at selling pasta door-to-door. But pasta, it turns out, is a remarkably adaptable food--ideal for catching crooks, saving children, and making heros. Served up with antic illustrations and outrageous puns, this wacky treat is sure to have children clamoring for second helpings. Never underestimate the power of pasta!

Author Notes

April Pulley Sayre is an award-winning author of more than forty books for children. Along with her husband, she travels extensively to study, photograph, and videotape animals in the rain forests of Panama, Madagascar, and Ecuador. You can visit her at

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Sayre's established gift for nonfiction does not preclude her success with fiction and humor. Perciatelli-thin Al Dente accidentally saves the floundering family pasta business (everyone wants pizza) by creating "the world's first adjustable, portable, fresh-pasta maker: any noodle, any shape, any size!" Through these diverse shapes, he performs heroic feats in the community. Young readers will chuckle over a giant lasagna-noodle slide that saves children from a burning building, and fusilli springing folks crossing flooded streets. Older audiences will find humor in the names-Mari Nara and Mac Aroni. Sayre's inventive uses for pasta are well met by Costanza's frolic in cartoon watercolors that suffers slightly from a pervasive golden glow. Endpapers showcase 18 labeled pasta shapes. "Noodle Knowledge" briefly describes how pasta is made. Pair this story in a session with Tomie dePaola's Strega Nona: An Old Tale (S & S, 1979) and discuss the opposite effects of spaghetti en masse. This tale cooks up the fun, just right.-Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

To compete with the pizza-delivery businesses that threaten his familyÆs pasta business, Al Dente invents a portable pasta maker. The townspeople still prefer pizza--until the pasta machine proves useful in emergencies. Although somewhat long, this punning (Quick, use your noodle!), action-packed story is entertaining. The absurd plot points are expertly interpreted in Costanza's watercolors. From HORN BOOK Fall 2002, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Sayre's (Shadows, p. 189, etc.) enjoyable introduction to pasta is couched as a quick-thinking, tongue-in-cheek adventure yarn. It revolves around the Dente family (puns abound here), who-gentle and kind as they may be-are having a hard time succeeding in the family business of making pasta. Pizza has taken over the town's dinnertime. Al, the oldest son, has tried other professions-dentistry, auto mechanics-but his pasta bent has always sunk him: his teeth look like elbow macaroni, his radiator fan is made of farfalle. Then he has a brainstorm: He makes a portable pasta-maker to hawk his wares about town. Still, no one is buying. But Al does put his machine to good use, spewing out angel-hair pasta to foil bank robbers, shooting out a ribbon of lasagna noodle to serve as a slide to save people from a burning building, squeezing out fusilli to use as springs to bounce over floodwaters. In a final act of bravery, Al saves the pizza-delivery girl, and the town finally understands it has a pasta superhero on its hands. They also relearn a love of the stuff. Wildly playful artwork, from its Mediterranean colors to its characters' dreamy eyelids, melds with Sayre's goofy story, which will surely inspire readers to experiment with noodle shapes and-beware-to play with their food. (Picture book. 4-7)

Booklist Review

Ages 5-8. The author of Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! (2000) turns her attention to the intricacies of pasta in this pun-filled picture book. Al Dente tries in vain to escape the family business before inventing a portable fresh pasta maker. Although door-to-door sales are slow (everyone prefers pizza), his contraption comes in handy for capturing crooks, rescuing young boys from burning buildings, and assisting Mari Nara, the pizza deliverywoman--thus earning Al a reputation as Noodleman, the pasta superhero, and saving the family business. Costanza's cartoonlike watercolor illustrations take full advantage of the pasta motif (especially the endpapers featuring a different kind of pasta in each window), and their humor and absurdity are a perfect match for the exaggerated text. Occasionally, text and the accompanying picture don't quite match; in most cases the picture catches up with the story in the next spread, which also incorporates later plot elements. A great read-aloud and an interesting catalyst for creative-writing classes. --Kay Weisman