Two top picture-book collaborators team up in another irresistible entry. Al the janitor and his talking dog Eddie seem to live quiet lives of desperation. ``They ate together. They worked together. What could be bad? Plenty.'' Then their lives are changed by the appearance of a giant bird who carries them away to an island in the skya tropical paradise. ``They never had it so good,'' but ``ripe fruit soon spoils.'' They begin to turn into birds! They try to fly back to Manhattan: Al barely makes it, but Eddie falls into the river. ``Fortunately, Eddie was a talented swimmer, and in no time he found his way back to the West Side.'' They are jubilant and have learned a lesson: ``Paradise lost is sometimes heaven found.'' Egielski's watercolors are humorous, marvelously detailed and a perfect foil for Yorinks's wit. Views of the apartment are done in dingy tones, while their lost paradise is lush and colorful. Like Louis the Fish, Hey, Al is sure to please both parents and kids with its wry humor. (4-up)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1 Gibbons briefly examines the origins of several birthday celebration traditions: cake, candles, wishes, and gifts. She also explains birth-month good luck symbols, such as birthstones, flowers, colors, and astrological signs. The illustrations are her trademark: bright, busy, and colorful drawings. However, the book is not as cogent as some of Gibbons' others; introductory material is a bit repetitive, and the ending is abrupt. There is one gramatical error, and Gibbons writes that ``Some people plant a tree. . .in memory of the special day,'' when she actually means honor . Some children from poorer homes may question Gibbons' assumption that everyone has a birthday celebration every year. Candles, Cakes, and Donkey Tails (Houghton, 1984) by Lila Perl provides a more in-depth look at the same subject but is for older readers. As there is nothing else available to explain these customs to younger audiences, and the illustrations are cheerful and eye-catching, Happy Birthday! could be an adequate supplement for birthday storytimes. Jeanette Larson, Mesquite Public Library, Tex.