Use your noodle by Sarah Brazier
Little Steps Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9781925839517. Unpaged.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Sarah Brazier and colour-loving illustrator Andrew Hopgood create a factional text about the brain that looks and feels more like a picture book. The author uses Tom and Emma to demonstrate dual workings of our brain, ideal for shared reading. We are introduced to Mind, who never shuts up. He's the noisy, sensing, colourful, feeling and reactive one. For a friend, his behaviour can certainly cause us a lot of anxiety and embarrassment. Hopgood's flesh tone rendering of Noodle however, shows us the bland, contemplative, reasoning brain, who helps us to choose to be awesome. Hopgood aids young readers by highlighting awesome words and instructions. When Tom and Emma are challenged by their irrational feelings, they allow Mind's "fight or flight" reflexes to take over. To be their best selves, both are advised to consult Noodle and analyse each situation before making rash decisions. The delightful thing about Use your noodle is not to denigrate our amazing emotions with unique thoughts and experiences. But Brazier wants us to consult someone else, a different inner self, aka Noodle, and that makes all the difference.
It is not surprising that the hat tip to both academic and spiritual thinkers concludes the book, since the takeaway is to balance our "two" brains, making sure that Noodle has the time to convince us of the best outcome. But the message doesn't end there with the absolutes of neuroscience - the most important message is saved for last . . .
"There is only one special you. Only you have your mind and your noodle. No one will ever know exactly what you are thinking, and you won't know what someone else is thinking. So try not to worry about what others do. Just treat other people as you would like them to treat you."
Fans of Hey warrior by Karen Young, will think this instructional text ugly by comparison, but Use your noodle targets all young readers, and many adults too, whose compulsions are not restricted to clinical anxiety.