5.0 1
by Donna Jo Napoli, Jim LaMarche

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The morning begins like any other. Albert reaches out the window to check the weather. But from the moment a twig lands in the palm of his hand, life is never the same.


The morning begins like any other. Albert reaches out the window to check the weather. But from the moment a twig lands in the palm of his hand, life is never the same.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A good read-aloud book for the whole family . . . Delightful."--Houston Chronicle

"An admirable debut."--School Library Journal (starred review)

"A beguiling tale . . . A magical marriage of art and text."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Publishers Weekly
According to PW's starred review, this is "a beguiling tale of a recluse forced out of his shell through unlikely circumstances." Ages 5-8. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Albert seems to have opted out of life until one day, when he puts his hand out through the grill of the window to check the weather, a pair of cardinals builds a nest and deposits four eggs in it. Arthur can't move without disturbing them. If we can accept the premise that he stays there, day after day, subsisting on the berries fed him by the cardinal, then we can rejoice with him at the fledglings' hatching and final flight away. It is a changed Albert that finally goes out for a walk and, sometimes, "when no one's looking, he flies." Albert looks out at us from the jacket/cover with an appealing, whimsical expression behind his spectacles and a cardinal on his head. LaMarche creates a friendly neighborhood where magical events seem perfectly possible. The large, mostly full-page, naturalistic and detailed scenes are created with colored pencil and a textured romanticism that allows the light paper to glow through the applied pigment, just as the skies glow when Albert finally ventures outside. 2001, Silver Whistle/Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The simple one-word title of Albert sets the theme for this wonderful picture book. Albert, the main character, finds an excuse each day to avoid a daily walk. While he sees many inviting things outside of his window, he also sees threatening things that keep him indoors. He evaluates each day by sticking his hand out though the bars of his window. One day, two cardinals take his outstretched arm as an invitation to build a nest. Not wanting to disturb the nest, Albert does not withdraw his arm. Even though he sees and hears many frightening events like a plane roaring overhead, he is unable to jerk his arm inside for sake of the eggs in the nest. As the days pass though, he discovers that by remaining by the window the things that first frightened him become not so threatening and eventually manage to intrigue him. He begins to use his imagination to dream about the new things that he has discovered by remaining near the window. Visually, we discover that he has even made some new friends along the way. A great paring of an award-winning author and a beloved illustrator is a sure way to create a wonderful masterpiece for children. Donna Jo Napoli, author of numerous novels for young people such as Zel (Dutton,1996), creates the wonderful world of the tentative, shy Albert through her steady and reassuring narrative. Jim LaMarche, illustrator of The Raft (HarperCollins, 2000), brings Albert, a slight, simple character, to life with his amazing illustrations. The only other characters presented are a few stray neighbors and the family of cardinals that befriend Albert. Albert's discovery that good and bad things make up the vast world and that one must venture outdoors to discover the manyexciting things that await him or her is a universal part of growing up. Albert's memorable face and quiet ways will endear him to audiences of many ages. Despite the simple story line and the small cast of characters, this book gracefully presents a valuable truth. 2001, Harcourt, 32 pages,
— Kara Fondse Van Drie
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Sitting in his apartment, Albert enjoys listening to "good" noises (giggling children, a singing mailman). Each day, the man sticks his hand out through the grillwork on his window and considers whether or not to go out. Inevitably, he hears a "bad" noise (a garbage truck, people arguing), decides that the weather isn't right, and retreats to read comics or listen to baseball games. His routine takes a dramatic turn when a twig falls into his outstretched hand, and two cardinals build a nest and lay their eggs. Unable to retrieve his arm without harming the nest, he remains there, night and day, until the eggs hatch. Meanwhile, he observes not just the unpleasant side of the outside world, but also the many possibilities it offers. By the time he helps the last fledgling learn to fly, he is ready to venture out, and even to soar into the sky on a swing. In her first picture book, novelist Napoli proves that she can develop an interesting character in a tighter format. The introduction of the cardinals makes the story of an agoraphobic man accessible to children. The illustrations, done in colored pencils on textured paper, create a casual, rough-around-the-edges look that is just right for this story. Try pairing this book with tales of other intriguing loners, such as Ikarus in Christopher Myers's Wings (Scholastic, 2000) or Old Sam in Patricia Zelver's The Wonderful Towers of Watts (Morrow, 1994; o.p.). An admirable debut.-Wendy Lukehart, Harrisburg School District, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.11(d)
350L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A good read-aloud book for the whole family . . . Delightful."—Houston Chronicle

"An admirable debut."—School Library Journal

"A beguiling tale . . . A magical marriage of art and text."—Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

DONNA JO NAPOLI is the award-winning author of many novels, including Zel. She is a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

JIM LaMARCHE is the illustrator of many popular children's books, including The Carousel by Liz Rosenberg. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

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Albert 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Having_Fun More than 1 year ago
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. I'm buying extra copies to give to our therapist, psychiatrist and several friends whose children struggle with fear and anxiety. It's a good one to keep on the shelf and go back to when a child is becoming fearful. It reminds them of the joy of freedom, and that it's really not that hard to break free. But they'll never know that's what they're learning.