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FREE Å Hey, Al õ Al, a janitor, and his faithful dog, Eddie, live in a single room on the West Side They eat together, they work together, they do everything together So what's the problem?Their room is crowded and cramped; their life is an endless struggle Al and Eddie are practically at each others throats when a large and mysterious bird offers them a new life in paradise After some debate, they decide to acceptTransported to a gorgeous island in the sky, Al and Eddie are soon living a life of ease and luxury But they come to find that the grass can be a little too green on the other side After a dramatic, nearly tragic escape from their paradise prison, both man and dog agree: there really is no place like home Hey, Al is the winner of theCaldecott Medal This book seemed like a rather random story to be telling to kids, I thought it had a nice message, but was a little too weird to correctly get its point across The illustrations were pretty nice, but I found one illustration especially disturbing, and that picture was of the dodo bird having hands underneath it's feathers, that was just a tad bit too odd This book wrapped up its point rather quickly and had some weird elements, so I don't think I'd recommend it.*Taken from my book reviews blog: I love all the birds in this book This was an unexpected story A Janitor and his dog live in a very small 1 room apartment Tiny They are looking to upgrade when a huge bird sticks its head in the window and offers to take them to a new and better place That page, the kids were like, wow, that’s a big bird “Are there birds that big?” “No” Anyway,The man is taken to an island in the sky which the kids thought was very cool It was like a bird paradise This book was a complete surprise to me and I won’t spoil it here so go and read it It’s a short and quick book to read The kids loved the surprise on the island and the conclusion The nephew gave this 5 stars and the niece gave it 4 stars They couldn’t figure out if the birds were evil or good and I said that maybe they are just birds and not evil or good Anyway This was fun and our house enjoyed it. After reading many Caldecott Medal award winning books, I stumbled upon this rare gem called “Hey, Al” which won a Caldecott Medal and was written by Arthur Yorinks along with illustrations by Richard Egielski Get prepared for one surreal yet adventurous journey!Meet Al, the janitor and his faithful dog, Eddie They live in a single room on the West Side and they do everything together So, every thing is fine, right? WRONG!Al and Eddie’s life is miserable as they live in a small and cramped apartment and they are barely making it in life One day, however, a large bird comes to their apartment and tells them about a place where things are so much better than the life they are currently living in Al and Eddie then decided to let the large bird take them to this mysterious place and it turns out to be a beautiful island located up in the sky Everything was going great for Al and Eddie as they were living the perfect paradise that they dreamed of, but it turns out that their “paradise” comes with a price…Wow! I cannot believe that I had never read this book before! I had heard so many good things about this book and how popular it was, but I never had the chance to read about it until now! Arthur Yorinks had done an excellent job at writing this story as this story is extremely imaginative and surreal at the same time! I loved the fact that Arthur Yorinks approached the theme of “the grass is greener on the other side” and gave it afantasy spin on it as it has both Al and Eddie traveling to a magical island to gain a better life from the one they have, only to realize that it does come with a price Richard Egielski’s illustrations are what truly sold this book to me I loved how gorgeous Richard Egielski’s illustrations are, especially of the scenes of Al and Eddie going to the island in the sky as there are many images of luscious trees and different types of birds inhabiting the island I also loved how realistic and colorful the illustrations are as they bring a sense of tranquility and beauty to the story.(view spoiler)[****SPOILER ALERT!!!****Parents should know that the scene where Al and Eddie start turning into birds might be scary for smaller children Parents might want to reassure their children that the story is purely fantasy and that it would not happen in real life The story was merely trying to show readers about how the theme of “the grass is greener on the other side” can come with consequences in afantastical way.****SPOILER ENDED**** (hide spoiler)] Al the janitor doesn't mind working hard all day, even though he hardly makes enough to pay for a tiny studio and keep food in his and his dog's mouths But Eddie, the little dog, wishes for space to run around When a giant toucan pokes his head in the bathroom window one day and offers to take them on a tropical vacation, it seems like a wonderful opportunity But as the two buddies lounge around in paradise, they find themselves turning into birds! Can they escape?And this is where the story kind of broke down for me What's so terrible about being a bird? And why do the birds want to bring strangers to be transformed into birds? That's not explained at all Since Al and Eddie's home is portrayed as gray and cramped, and they seem to have no friends or activities besides work and tv, why do they want to go back? Personally, being a bird sounds fun and eating fruit on a lush tropical island sounds better than mopping floors all day But I guess we're not allowed to give that sort of escapist message to impressionable children Kids, work hard and be content with what life dishes out to you!I did very much like the illustrations, especially the way Al's tiny room forms a frame that is always liminal; even before the fantastic elements are introduced, we always see details outside the border, hinting at the permeability of the space.