Sunday, May 30, 2010

Outgoing: How the Nobble Was Finally Found by C. K. Williams

Once upon a time there was something, a creature or an animal or a person or, anyway, a something named a NOBBLE, who--even though he'd lived about four thousand three hundred ad twenty-three years and fourteen days--had never been discovered, or bumped into, or met, or found by anybody, anybody at all.

He lived all alone.

The NOBBLE plays in the place between Wednesday and Thursday, and he sleeps on the bottom rung of the number eight, but he has never had anyone to say "Hello," or "Come in!" to, and so he also has no one he could say "Goodbye" to. It is such a solitary way of being that the Nobble begins to wonder who he is-- or even if he is.

Sometimes the NOBBLE would think that not only was he dreaming that he was crying in his sleep, but maybe he was a dream himself; maybe he was just himself having a dream about himself.

He didn't want to be alone anymore, so he set off to try to find some place he hadn't been yet, or maybe see something there he hadn't seen yet...or SOMETHING.

It's a strange world in that place where he's never been, but then he meets an unlikely matchmaker, a somebody called a girl, who seems to know exactly what the NOBBLE needs. When he can't bring himself to come close enough to talk, she shouts to him "Pick up the phone!" And when he finally understands how to open the phone booth and put the strange black thing to his ear, she tells him exactly where to go, and when he gets to that place she explains how to open the door for the something that is knocking, the somebody that is also looking for a something like him. It is another NOBBLE, one who has been just as lonely as he.

And they laughed and zoomed off, both of them, up through the space of the highest note in your favorite song. . . and crossed the space between Wednesday and Thursday and then the little girl couldn't see them anymore; all she could hear was their laughing.

Putting together Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C. K. Williams and Caldecott medalist Stephen Gammell guarantees a fantasy of friendship found, one that indeed lives in the space behind the ampersand and between the quiver-quavers of a violin's vibrato. Their How the Nobble Was Finally Found (Houghton Miffln/Harcourt, 2009) features Gammell's unique and fanciful hand-lettering and unmistakable illustrations and Williams' way-out language that will take young readers to a place they've never been but, with a friend on the other side, a place they will instantly recognize.

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