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Eric Bennett
Noodles' and Albie's Birthday Surprise
Eric Bennett, author

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

It was early Summer in the Antarctic.  As the temperature climbed to a balmy
ten degrees below zero, Noodles and his friends were spending their long days playing in the snow and belly-sliding on ice.
Today was December 24th, and it was Noodles’ birthday.  While Noodles’ parents were preparing for his party, Noodles frolicked on the ice with his friends. A group of red jacket wearing tourists were taking their picture.   While under the sea his best pal Albie searches for the perfect birthday gift for Noodles.  For his special day Albie not only finds Noodles a very cool compass from a sunken treasure chest, but also takes Noodles to Polar Kingdom, the world's greatest undersea amusement park. After a long and very fun day at the park, Noodles & Albie notice a red glow coming from the waters surface as they swim home. When they investigate they find a lost man in a red coat with a white beard on an ice floe. The man also is with a sled overflowing with boxes, and some strange looking animals. One even has a glowing red nose. The man, who Noodles & Albie confuse for an Antarctic tourist (who also wear red jackets) is lost and explains how his assistants advised him to use a GPS this year to help him on his annual route, but rather than helping, instead the GPS has left him hopelessly lost. Being that it's daylight in Antarctica 24/7 this time of the year, he can't even use the North Star to navigate, and he needs to get North and asap. Will Noodles help the lost man by giving him his birthday compass and how will this man get off the ice anyway?

Noodles the penguin and his fish friend, Albie, get a chance to save Christmas in this humorous follow-up to Noodles and Albie: A Penguin Journey. (Never mind that neither animal has heard of the holiday.) Bennett’s story primarily revolves around another celebration: Noodles’s birthday, which falls on December 24. Albie gives him a compass as a present, and Noodles quickly regifts it after they run into a “chubby tourist” dressed in red, stranded with his reindeer on an Antarctic ice floe. Bennett and Reardon both get in some good jokes: Santa describes how his new GPS system’s incessant instructions led him to go off-course, and during a visit to an underwater amusement park, Albie and Noodles take a spin on the Octowhirl ride, an actual octopus. The story meanders a bit, and Reardon’s artwork wavers uncomfortably between cartoonish and naturalistic in places, but readers should still get a kick out of the animals’ obliviousness to all things Christmas. A lighthearted Q&A with Albie—featuring questions about the Antarctic, how compasses work, and more—rounds out this warm friendship story. Ages 4–8. (BookLife)
Tonja Drecker

What a cute, penguin delight! Friendship, fun action and a dash of heart-warming moments are accompanied by whimsical illustrations, bringing this icy adventure to life.


Unleashing Readers (

Noodles' and Albie's Birthday Surprise takes readers on a second adventure of two best friends that is just as wonderful as the first and with a delightful cameo the reader doesn't see coming. Teachers and students will find much to discuss as they read this humorous, clever tale.