Hey, Al is the surreal dreaming of a garbage collector and his pet parrot. Yep. You heard me right. Wait! Maybe Al is a school custodian and it was his pet dog who turns into a parrot…Maybe I read it too late at night and I need to read it again. I don’t mind; it’s a fun one.
If you haven’t read Hey, Al before, think Alice in Wonderland meets environmentalism in a short, picture book-friendly format. What an unusual story. What a combination of themes. After first reading Hey, Al, I needed to read it again and figure out the dog-parrot thing. I wasn’t sure I completely understood its ultimate appeal, that I captured its dream-like quality and fully appreciated its award-winning illustrations. Don’t get me wrong, it is really, really good, yet…
Hey, Al won the 1987 Caldecott Medal, in between The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg and Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. I initally found myself unfamiliar with Hey, Al. Perhaps it had caught the middle child syndrome when sandwiched between two classics. Maybe I just didn’t know of this crafty yarn and everyone else does? I don’t know. Regardless, it is good stuff. Just different. I heart good-but-different stuff!
The first line of the 1987 Caldecott Medal book Hey, Al by Arthur Yorinks & Richard Egielski is “Al, a nice man, a quiet man, a janitor, lived in one room on the West Side with his faithful dog, Eddie.”
What maybe-strange, but ultimately-charming combinations of character and setting do you dream of writing? The world needs the unique, the unusual and the compassionate. Like this book, maybe YOU have the untold story of what happens when that character down the street from you rounds the corner and walks right into the middle of something positive. (Instead of something dark and sinister, like the nightly news leads us to believe.)
The PiBoIdMo 2013 Idea Prompt is: