What’s That Noise? – Naomi Howarth

   What’s That Noise? – Naomi Howarth.  Candlewick Press, 2020, 9781536213522

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:   Picture book

What did you like about the book?  Magnus, a ringed seal, wakes up to a loud rumbling sound and travels around his Arctic neighborhood asking his friends if they know what it is.  He is joined by an Arctic hare, a snowy owl, and others, before coming upon Walrus.  Walrus suggests that Magnus dive down and catch some plump, pink shrimp.  After Magnus returns to his friends with a feast, he realizes that the noise that woke him up was his own “rumbling, grumbling hungry TUMMY!”

The repetitive nature of the narrative, the surprise denouement, and the charming illustrations  – folk-art-like renderings of Arctic animals against lovely pastel snowy landscapes – make this a fun readaloud for K-2 students.  The author adds backmatter with brief information about each species included in the story, and mentions the effects of climate change on the region.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I always find it strange in lighthearted picture books when the cute anthropomorphized animals eat other animals which have no cute faces, like Magnus and his friends enjoying a feast of shrimp.  I don’t know if young readers would catch on to that or be bothered by it.  It certainly could open up a conversation about the food web (but simple research would also lead to the information that Magnus’ polar bear friend would likely have eaten all of the others).

To whom would you recommend this book?  Primary grade teachers doing habitat units might like to use this as an introduction to the Arctic and its creatures.  I read it to some students and a 2nd grader commented that it did a good job teaching how to ask questions, as Magnus asks each of his friends about the noise in a different way.

Who should buy this book?  Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Leigh King, Lincoln St. Elementary School, Northborough, Mass.

Date of review:  4/24/2020

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