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How the Nobble Was Finally Found

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The Nobble lives in a world all his own—a fantastical world where you can do the impossible things of dreams. It’s a nice life and all he’s ever known. Yet one day he begins to think about finding some place he hasn’t been yet. Or maybe seeing something he hasn’t seen yet. Or . . . something. So he sets off on a journey to an unusual place, where he discovers roary things, fuzzy things, and tall, shiny, rectangular things. Then a door knocks. If only he knew what a door was . . ...

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How the Nobble Was Finally Found

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Overview

The Nobble lives in a world all his own—a fantastical world where you can do the impossible things of dreams. It’s a nice life and all he’s ever known. Yet one day he begins to think about finding some place he hasn’t been yet. Or maybe seeing something he hasn’t seen yet. Or . . . something. So he sets off on a journey to an unusual place, where he discovers roary things, fuzzy things, and tall, shiny, rectangular things. Then a door knocks. If only he knew what a door was . . .

C. K. Williams and Stephen Gammell’s enchanting tale is about finding the courage to go out and search for what you want most in the world. And sometimes, that’s a friend.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Nobble’s continual world-play confusion will delight those listening to a read-aloud."—Booklist

"The illustrator uses his delicious transparent colors, lightening his dark splatters, shadows and tangles, to great effect."—Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
The lonely Nobble (an implike creature with “two lovely wings and little claws on his fingers and a bunch of nice toes”) has never met another living being, but after a long journey he is found by a girl who, in turn, leads him to another Nobble. The Nobble-meets-Nobble romance charms, as does the creature's E.T.-like naïveté. Because he's never met anyone else, he not only must learn what a door is but also what knocking is, and the importance of saying “Who's there?” instead of “Where when?” Caldecott Medalist Gammell, working in an eerie rather than sprightly mode, renders the Nobble as Williams describes him, but avoids visualizing some of the text's more fanciful images (as when the Nobble takes walks “on the bumps under the word asparagus or,... in the river that runs along beneath piano strings”). Instead, he paints the Nobbles in cloudy alien landscapes of gray, shot through with spidery filaments. Williams's text (there's a good deal more than in the average picture book) looks dense but reads lightly. Once past the initial dreariness of the Nobble's solitary existence, the story moves swiftly toward its end, with sweetly poignant giggles throughout. Ages 6–9. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A Nobble is "something, a creature or animal or a person" who has lived undiscovered for four thousand plus years, all alone. This strange human-like character with huge eyes, dangly ears, "two lovely wings," and claws on his fingers, spends time in odd places, like napping in the bottom rung of the number eight and playing in the space between Wednesday and Thursday. The Nobble is a bit lonely and sad but imaginative. Impatient with his life, he sets off to find…"something." When he comes to a city, it is strange and frightening. A girl he encounters tells him to pick up a phone; she has to explain what that is to him, along with words like "road" and "door." She then tells him to open a door. To his delight, he discovers another Nobble. After some complicated fun with words, they say a grateful goodbye to the girl, along with a hello to each other. For this very odd fantasy, Gammell has let himself go, creating a fairy world with sweeping watercolor brushstrokes and extremely sensitive line drawings, along with a charming Nobble with black hair borrowed from hummingbird feathers and a spunky young girl with even longer hair and oversized shoes. Gammell has hand-lettered parts of the text, particularly the sound effects, to add to the visual excitement on every page of this tale with much to ponder. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Gammell lavishes the pages of this oversize book with whimsical, intriguing backgrounds that feature gnarled branches, protruding vines, and mushroomlike appendages. This is the world of Nobble—a dangly eared, spike-haired, green-footed imp with "two lovely wings." His 4323 years, 3 months, and 14 days have been filled with play in the space between Wednesday and Thursday and with naps in the bottom rung of the number eight. Of late, though, never having known anybody at all, he finds himself lonely, so he heads for the glow way off in the distance between Friday and Saturday. After stumbling into a city filled with new and amazing buildings, strange creatures, and scary sounds, he is befriended by an amicable and determined young girl who, after several persistent tries, leads him to his heart's desire—another Nobble, just like him. The story is longer than most picture books, but Williams's playful language and sprightly pacing zips the tale along nicely, coexisting well with the richly colored and creative images. Gammell also sparks the text by hand drawing and coloring key words—"Nobble" is highlighted each time it appears, resulting in an airy look to the type that blends illustrations and story together. This delightful fantasy about the need for finding a soul mate and about connecting with others will have special appeal to those who enjoy a touch of magic.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Williams, a National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, and Gammell, Caldecott winner and master of the sinuously surreal squiggle, deliver an overlong and overtwee tale. The Nobble has been around for thousands of years, "playing in the space between Wednesday and Thursday," but alone and lonely. He heads away from what he knows (napping in the bottom of the number 8, playing in the "octagonal rooms in snowflakes") to find himself in a city, which is full of shapes he does not have words for. A little girl recognizes him as similar to someone else she has seen and gets him to open a door ("What's a door?" asks the Nobble at the end of this torturously forced interaction) to see . . . another Nobble, one that looks just like him. Off they go, and the little girl hears them laughing. Too many words tell this story, which is heavy with the subtext of childhood loneliness and difference. The illustrator uses his delicious transparent colors, lightening his dark splatters, shadows and tangles, to great effect, but they cannot save this effort. (Picture book. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152054601
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/7/2009
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD1130L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

C. K. WILLIAMS is an acclaimed poet and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and spends his summers in France.

STEPHEN GAMMELL is the beloved author and illustrator of Twigboy and Is That You, Winter? He received the Caldecott Medal for his illustration of Song and Dance Man by Karen Ackerman. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2009

    A Lovely Story

    This is a lovely story about a singular creature who spends most of his life alone (in really interesting places!), until he sets out in the world and finds someone to love. The book contains a wonderful lesson for anyone who has ever been lonely or felt lost- a particularly sweet message for a child.

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