Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Learning | Noodleheads


There is a folklore tradition of noodlehead, or noodle, characters. These are generally people who lack common sense in one way or another.  Things can go terribly wrong, and the results can be quite comical.  Think about Jack in the Beanstalk, trading a cow for some magical beans.

Why do we like these stories so much?  All of us can relate to making mistakes, and dealing with the consequences.  Maybe these stories help us to think about how to approach problem solving, or how to follow directions, or maybe how to ask somebody for help in a way that they understand.  But mostly, I think it's that we like the silliness of the consequences.

The Man Who Kept House is a traditional folk tale.  The man tells his wife she is not working hard enough in the house while he is out working in the field.  So she suggests switching places the next day.  He thinks he will do things more efficiently than her, but he ends up making a mess of it, as you can see from this illustration from the version by P. C. Asbjørnsen, J. E. Moe and Svend Otto S.

SSJCPL has a variety  of noodle stories, including All of Our Noses Are Here, and Other Noodle Tales, and There is a Carrot in My Ear, and Other Noodle Tales, both by Alvin Schwartz.  

Minnie and Moo are a popular pair of noodlehead characters in a series of books for beginning readers. 

Also in the easy reader section, Amelia Bedelia is a very popular noodlehead. She takes her job as a housekeeper very seriously, but she takes orders too literally. 

Do you have any favorite noodleheads that were left out of this post?  

A Louisiana Noodlehead Character

I went home to Louisiana over the holidays.  While I was there, I visited City Park in New Orleans.  There's a section of the park that is especially made for children; it's called Storyland.  Like Stockton's own Pixie Woods, Storyland has representations of various characters from children's stories and fairy tales.  

Much of Storyland is just like I remember it from my childhood.  But there were some new additions I had not seen before: a castle designed for reading stories to groups of children, and a memorial bench with a fiberglass sculpture of beloved storyteller Coleen Salley.

Coleen Salley was a children's librarian, professor, author, and literacy advocate. She loved folklore, especially Louisiana folklore. 

Author William Joyce dedicated The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore to Coleen Salley. She appears as a cameo character in a polka dot dress in the Academy Award-Winning short film of the book.

 She served as a consultant for Disney's animated feature, The Princess and the Frog. In fact, the Mama Odie character in the movie incorporates Coleen's mannerisms and speech patterns--not to mention a line straight out of her Epossumondas book.   

Photo by Sharren Harrison Burns
I just couldn't resist posing for a picture with this whimsical sculpture of Coleen Salley as the noodlehead Epossumundas' Mama.  Of course, Mama is holding her "sweet little patootie," Epossumondas. Epossumondas has a tendency to take instructions literally, without applying common sense.  I wouldn't want to send him to the store to buy anything important, but I love reading about his antics.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, Lori! I have always been a fan of quirky characters. Good picture from your trip too.