Albert Upside Down

Albert Upside Down
Ian Brown and Eoin Clarke
Graffeg

The latest episode in the life of my favourite tortoise Albert is full of action; not however that of the protagonist – he finds himself belly up after an unfortunate rock climbing episode undertaken in an attempt to reach a tasty treat. During his efforts to right himself the creature gives a big sigh that attracts the attention of a passing worm. Said worm stops to enquire about its cause and is soon joined not only by a second worm but also several ants. Both parties claim to be best at moving large objects and Albert suggests they work together to flip him over.

Before long it seems that the entire minibeast population has come together in the cause of operation Albert. They give it their all as they push and shove, lift and pull but the tortoise remains stuck, legs skywards. Maybe a food luring tactic might do it, but no, though it does serve to attract further attention in the form of a butterfly that offers to assist only to be given the push by a snooty snail on account of being too delicate.

Further shoving, pushing and lifting ensue to no avail so the workers pause for some silent thinking. That silence is broken by the voice of a young worm with a clever suggestion. Under the direction of the chief worm some concentrated team work begins and there’s some movement as Albert rolls slightly but not enough. More weight is required states another worm when suddenly what should return and land gently upon that snooty snail but the butterfly. Now she might just be the one to make all the difference …

And so she does but with Albert now back on his four feet, why are all those who came to his rescue making a hasty dash to put some distance between saved and savers. Hmmm! Seemingly it’s because Albert is his normal self once more and we know what that means …

Ian Brown’s story of struggles and strife, rivalry and ultimately, creative teamwork becomes a truly comic episode thanks in no small part to Eoin Clarke’s hilarious, detailed illustrations. In the style of Tolstoy’s Great Big Enormous Turnip tale that has become a classic, we see how just a tiny bit of additional assistance can make a huge difference.

This is sure to be a winner with young listeners either in the classroom or at home. Don’t miss the final facts page about the real Albert (inspirer of the tale) and his cousins.

Albert and the Wind

Albert and the Wind
Ian Brown and Eoin Clarke
Graffeg

This is a playful story about Albert, a tortoise who struggles to get his message of thanks across to the various creatures that come to his aid, rescuing items of his meal that are blown away by the swooshing wind.

First to help is a bee that proffers the leaf he’s just bumped into on the wing, Albert responds thus, “To make sure it does not blow away again, I am going to sit on it.” Before he can add his words of thanks, the bee has buzzed off.

Other helpers are in turn, a spider, a snail and a worm,

followed by a whole host of other creatures from all over the garden, some of which bring items that hadn’t been part of Albert’s meal.

The wind continues to blow and Albert and his food items are reunited, little by little until the whole meal is ready and waiting for eating.

However, Albert is still concerned that he’s not been able to show any of his helpers how grateful he is. Can he find a way to deliver his words of thanks to everyone at the same time? Ingeniously yes, thanks to the last few items left unconsumed …

This amusing tale ends with a blast that will delight young listeners and I suspect, adult sharers. With a factual page about Albert and other tortoises, and Eoin Clarke’s quirkily humorous, larger than life illustrations of the various helper minibeasts, as well as the protagonist, this is a book that readers aloud will enjoy giving voice to as much as listeners will enjoy hearing it.