ALBERT by Donna Jo Napoli

ALBERT

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A young recluse makes an unusual connection to the outside world in Napoli's (Beast, 2000, etc.) first picture book. Albert lives in his apartment, protected from the world by the bars on his window. Every day he listens to the sounds outside—to laughter and other good noises and to arguing and other bad noises—and sticks his hand out the window, but every day he draws it back and stays inside. One day while his arm is outstretched, two cardinals build a nest in it, forcing the good-hearted Albert to remain with his hand out the window for weeks as they raise their family. He sleeps standing up and, by peeping insistently, gets the cardinals to bring him food (blackberries and beetles, which he eventually comes to enjoy). Through the unwitting intervention of the cardinals, he learns that the world, despite its bad noises, holds wondrous possibilities. LaMarche's (The Raft, 2000, etc.) colored-pencil illustrations portray Albert as something of an aesthete, with a high forehead and little intellectual spectacles, and views vary from close-up images of Albert's quizzical face to long views of the apartment building with Albert's small hand protruding from the bars. It is an unabashedly unlikely story, whose message is somewhat unsubtly hammered home when it is left to Albert to convince a reluctant fledgling to leave the nest. The deadpan prose and warmly humorous illustrations combine to keep the reader's disbelief suspended (just barely), crafting a sweetly reassuring book about taking chances. This fits nicely with Tohby Riddle's The Singing Hat (p. 187). (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-15-201572-8
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2001




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