Albert's Very Unordinary Birthday
Albert's Very Unordinary Birthday
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Annotation: Just when Albert is beginning to think his birthday is going to be very ordinary, his larger-than-life Grandma Z arrives and takes Albert on a very unordinary birthday adventure.
Catalog Number: #183256
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-525-30118-7
ISBN 13: 978-1-525-30118-6
Dewey: E
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Would that we all had a Grandma Z like the one who whisks Albert away after he wishes for something more than birthday socks and toast from his sedate parents. They're off to the country to harvest "Dew of the Sea, Thunder plants, and Dead Man's Bells," then to climb Enchanted Rock, discover a new species of beetle, and other equally marvelous adventures. "I had a very unordinary day," Albert announces upon his return. "And it was wonderful." Also life changing, as from that day on "Albert never felt ordinary again." In his blue-and-orange illustrations, Gray-Barnett lavishes attention on the adventures themselves rather than the celebrants, but viewers will have no trouble spotting Albert, who sheds his formal blazer and necktie as he goes, or his motorcycle-riding rescuer, who is not only bulked up by a huge shag coat and mane of fiery hair but so much larger than life that her young charge barely comes up to her knee. All in all, a sparely narrated but decidedly unordinary valentine to intergenerational bonding.
Horn Book
It's young Albert's birthday, and as usual, his parents are killjoys ("Bake a cake? Oh dear, no!"). After Albert makes a wish, his Auntie Mameish Grandma Z arrives and whisks him off to play in the Midnight Forest, climb Enchanted Rock, visit a palace, etc. It's a fairly rote picture-book adventure, but the retro-flavored, limited-palette art is worth celebrating.
Kirkus Reviews
Poor Albert seems doomed to dullness until his fairy-godmother-like grandmother shows up to give him the "chocolate-cherry-ripple" birthday of his dreams.Albert's stick-in-the-mud parents don't do noise or mess. But Albert longs for something more than "extremely ordinary," and with fellow explorer Grandma Z, adventures ensue, both mystical (bird-watching while soaring through the sky) and mundane (a wild roller-coaster ride) until Albert arrives home changed. The illustrations open on Albert's dreary, black-and-white, composed home. Grandma brings touches of blue and glaring orange into the tight gray pencil drawings, the pages becoming riotously colorful and the drawings looser and gauzier. Albert metamorphoses too, from somber boy in black-tie to a cheery, sketchily lined, Quentin Blake-esque child, all with help from some not-so-subtle butterfly imagery. Ultimately, though, the story feels flat. The magic is too subtle and doesn't always feel like wish fulfillment—readers glimpse the sleeping dragon under the "curiosity shop" but Albert settles for merely touching a tooth. Some jaunts, such as foraging for "Dead Man's Bells" or "teaching Icelandic horses how to can-can" are weirdly esoteric. Albert never leads but passively follows the enigmatic Grandma Z, making the constant reassurances that he "never felt ordinary again" feel strangely hollow. There's no hint that Albert will seize his destiny and lead his own exploits; he's left waiting for Grandma's next visit.It's a likable-enough tale that never quite transforms into something magical. (Picture book. 4-8)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (4/1/19)
Horn Book (4/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3
Lexile: AD530L

On an ordinary day, in an even more ordinary town, it was Albert's birthday. Just like every other year, Albert asked for something special --- a robot piñata? balloon poodles? chocolate-cherry-ripple cake? And just like every other year, his parents suggested less exciting options, like birthday socks or birthday toast. But this year, after Albert closed his eyes and made a wish on the imaginary candle atop an imaginary piece of cake, Grandma Z knocked on his door. ?Happy birthday, Albert,? she said. ?Chocolate-cherry-ripple is a marvelous choice. Shall we go?? And Albert's birthday --- and his life --- was about to become anything but ordinary!

Daniel Gray-Barnett's debut picture book is a fun and fresh intergenerational romp, filled with wonder, imagination and a magical spirit. The quirky retro-style illustrations are full of energy and contain loads of delightfully odd details that add humor and playfulness to the story. With a modern-day grandma who is exciting and full of life --- her grandson's kindred spirit --- this book offers a new twist on celebrating the special role a grandparent can play within a family. A perfect read-aloud, the story of Albert's adventures with the irresistible Grandma Z is sure to captivate all children and make any day extraordinary!

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