An ends-justify-the-means story about a kid genius.
Albie is “a thinker from the start.” Funk’s playful, rhyming descriptions of his impressive toddlerhood feats immediately land this story in the realm of tall tales. For example, an early page reads: “Albie learned to speak a language almost every week: / English, Spanish, Hindi, Klingon, Gibberish, then Greek.” The other kids are well-acquainted when Albie enters school in the middle of the year, so he begins planning to “construct a special gift before the school day ends.” It’s soon apparent that despite his intellectual genius, Albie lacks social skills, and his achievements alienate others. Many are put off by his behavior when things in the classroom start disappearing, and he causes upset with disruptive activities. This goes on until Shirley sees what he’s doing in secret, and she convinces everyone to give him a chance and see what he’s been building. The big reveal is a spaceship time machine that sends them off on an adventure to close the book. Throughout, Garay’s colorful, digital, cartoon illustrations match the text’s silly, humorous tone but do little to expand or extend the story. Albie has light skin and black hair, and his classmates are diverse in both appearance and naming convention. Since the story is mostly about Albie’s genius and the distress Albie causes, it has the effect of distancing readers from its protagonist.
Doesn’t quite land. (Picture book. 3-5)