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Albert Paperback – June 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Every day Albert sticks his hand out the window of his apartment to check the weather. Every day he decides it's too cold, too hot, too wet, too breezy, and goes back to sitting at his table, drinking tomato juice, doing card tricks, or listening to baseball games on the radio. Until one day when he works his hand out through the grillwork over his window--plop! A cardinal drops a twig in his palm. Before he knows it, Albert is stranded, holding a brand new nest in his hand. The days go by, eggs are laid, the papa cardinal starts feeding berries to Albert, and, inevitably, chicks hatch. Meanwhile, Albert is slowly developing a different take on life. His previously protected world opens up as he witnesses the highs and lows of nature's course.

In this odd little story, award-winning young adult novelist Donna Jo Napoli (Zel, Spinners, etc.) takes her first stab at writing a picture book. It's quirky, it's whimsical... It's a little perplexing. The moral, apparently, is that we need to seize life by the lapels, take the good with the bad, not hide our heads underground. But this message may apply more strongly to adults, especially as the protagonist himself is a young man. Still, children will love the idea of a bird building its nest in someone's hand. With colored pencils, Jim LaMarche creates luminous full-page illustrations with charming details and intriguing angles. (Ages 5 to 8) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Napoli's (Beast) first picture book spins a beguiling tale of a recluse forced out of his shell through unlikely circumstances. Sticking his hand through the window grillwork each day to check the weather, Albert invariably decides it's "too cold," "too damp" or "too breezy" to venture out. Instead of going for a walk he "listened to baseball games on the radio and cut pictures out of magazines and wrote postcards he never mailed." One day when he stretches his hand outside his window, a pair of cardinals build a nest in it. Reluctant to destroy the nest, Albert sleeps standing up and guards the eggs while the parents are foraging. He thus discovers that the world is not so forbidding, and decides it's time to test his own wings. Napoli effortlessly incorporates the twin metaphors of Albert reaching out to the world around him and baby birds learning to fly in flawless prose. LaMarche (The Rainbabies) luminescent colored pencil illustrations in turn reflect the tale's quiet charm. The artist is in complete control of his imagery from start to finish: A literal foreshadowing in the opening scene shows the shadow of the birds perched on grillwork crossbars projected onto the wall, symbolizing both imprisonment and freedom; in the final scene, Albert "flies" on a swing in a city park. The artist captures Albert's gentle eccentricity in his Edwardian haircut and oddly formal clothing. A magical marriage of art and text. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (June 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0152052496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0152052492
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.1 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For all information about Donna Jo Napoli (books, events, biography, awards, contact information), please go to http://www.donnajonapoli.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Barrett on November 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A reviewer said about this book that "It's a little perplexing" as though this is somehow bad. But it is precisely this ambiguity that makes _Albert_ such an appealing and valuable book. More authors should do what Napoli does, and create books that make children think--not books of brainteasers, although these have their place, or books about difficult moral decisions, although these too may be useful.
But books about characters who do things differently, who see the world in what most of us would think a quirky way--there is always room for more of these, especially when they are written with the delicate and beautiful language that are Napoli's hallmark, and when illustrated with such astonishing artwork.
Children--and many adults--may not be familiar with the medieval saint-tales where behavior such as Albert's is seen as miraculous evidence of grace. But they will surely see that he is a special person. They will also see that there is more than one way to gain courage to face what we fear. That Napoli does this without any preaching, and with so much sensitivy, is a great accomplishment.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By BENJAMIN DURRANCE on May 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I had recently purchased (and loved) LaMarche's book "The Raft", a fantastic story with wonderful illustrations. "Albert" is illustrated by LaMarche but it is authored by Donna Jo Napoli. When my copy arrived, I sat down with three of my kids, ages 7, 9, and 11 and read it with them. They really enjoyed it.
LaMarche's sketches are really fantastic, probably the best I have ever seen in any children's books. He seems to capture facial expressions so well that they genuinely add feeling and depth to the prose written on the pages.
I was initially concerned that Albert was an odd character for a children's book..... (Albert, being easily discouraged by problems, or any signs of problems, has begun to isolate himself from the world.....) but my kids loved the book. It is a great story about healing and friendship.
Donna Jo Napoli has written the story in a way that makes it easy to read aloud. Thoughts are carefully constructed so that each page conveys a complete thought, carefully worded for young readers or listeners.
I read this book with my kids in about twenty minutes. Of course each of them wanted to take it to bed with them after we finished..... the true sign of a really good book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Maya Haberland on April 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Everyday Albert sticks his hand out the window to see if the weather is just right for him to take a walk. Everyday he decides it is either too windy or too hot because he fears the bad experiences he might have outside-until one day a pair of cardinals force him to open his eyes to the world. Colored pencil illustrations in warm tones. This picture book could be used in a classroom to discuss taking risks, growing up, and `leaving the nest'. As a middle school teacher, I might have my students write journal responses about someone or something that nudged them to take a chance they were not sure they were ready to take.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would agree that this book is peculiar, rather than whimsical, but also suggest that peculiarity can be used to good effect. Yes, it grates a bit on the adult sensibility to have Albert standing in the window for several weeks, but the author and illustrator collaborate nicely in this exploration of more complex emotions -- the tale of a youthful man's anxiety about the bad things in life and how his finding commitment to something outside himself lends him greater perspective.
Illustrations are lovely, and the content is appropriate for older kids exploring more complex emotions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Weakley on October 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this and instantly loved it.

This book shows a young man's unintentional therapuedic "exposure" to those things he fears in the outside world. By choosing to stand at a window and hold a nest which birds have built in his hands, he chooses to expose himself to the unsettling things in life. After spending time in the presence of those unsettling things (the rumbling truck, the boisterous people on the street), he discovers that they are not so terrible after all. His anxiety decreases and he is able to go out and join the world. It's about freedom and liberation from anxiety (and anxiety is, after all, just your brain telling you lies about real danger vs perceived danger).

He learns a basic lesson in life: To get rid of fear, do the thing you fear.

I have a family member with a generalized anxiety disorder and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I'm very familiar with formal therapy. "Albert" speaks to this anxiety in a powerful but tender way.

This is the stuff you can pay $180 per hour for in therapy. However, it's presented in a gentler, more understandable way. Children won't explicity recognize what's going on here. Even the family member who does the therapy completely missed it, and he designs and carries out OCD exposures on a regular basis. But as I drew the parallels, his eyes lit up and he got excited. He was able to "own" the story and write about it as his own.

Kids will see a quirky kid (and aren't we all a bit quirky?) who discovers freedom from needless fear. It's universal. It's liberating. And we want to cheer for him. It's appropriate for school age kids, but even sensitive older kids and adults will appreciate the story.
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