Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 348

Picture Book: Albert

Author: Donna Jo Napoli

Illustrator: Jim LaMarche

Summary: Albert lives in a city apartment building. Each morning, he reaches out through the grill work of his window to feel the weather. Then he decides whether to venture out. More likely, he finds reasons to stay home. One morning, as Albert’s arm is beyond the grill, a cardinal places a twig in his hand. More twigs are added by the bird’s partner, and soon one of the birds is snuggled into a nest on Albert’s hand! There she lays 4 small eggs. Albert doesn’t want to bring in his hand. The result would be a tilt to the nest, and it would fall, eggs and all. Albert talks to the birds, but they are busy and ignore him. Days go by! Albert manages to sleep while standing, and eventually the birds begin feeding him berries. From his “perch” at the window, Albert discovers the city is not so threatening. Stories emerge as people pass by. He especially enjoys the day when he sees the cracks in the eggs and the baby birds emerge. He affirms their work in being born and welcomes them. Albert watches as the adult birds teach their fledglings new skills including flight. Ironically, one baby is reluctant, and must be encouraged by Albert to leave the nest. Once the nest is empty of eggs, Albert brings in his arm though the nest falls. Then Albert decides it is a perfect day to go for a walk.

Hanna’s Comments: While reading this book, I was struck by Albert’s gentle spirit. This would be a story to help the children in your faith community decipher the words “meek” and “humble.” If you were to read this story to a group of adults, you could guide them in a conversation about how our trials often teach us exactly what we need to learn. Any age group could talk about the contrast between being a watcher of the world’s stories and a participant who goes out to make the story their own, ready to face fear and failure. You’ll also find most of the fruits of the Spirit in this book. 

Update: While recently studying Celtic Spirituality, a passion of mine for decades, I learned of a Celtic myth similar to this book’s story. Perhaps the author knows it. Saint Kevin of Glendalough, Ireland is said to have supported a blackbird’s nest with his hand when a nest was begun while he extended his arms as on a cross.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Harcourt, 2011 

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: None at present 

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book connects with: acceptance, adaptation/assimilation, affection, animals, anxiety/worry, attentiveness/observation/seeing, awe, babies/children, bonds/connections, caring/tending, care of creation, challenges, chosen, commitment, dependence/interdependence, difficulties, eggs/seeds, encouragement, fear, freedom, fruit of the Spirit, gentleness/meekness, God’s nature, goodness, grace, heroes, hiding/isolation, home, hospitality, humility, life, loneliness, nurturing, openness, patience, perseverance, sacrifice, steadfastness, transformation, treasure, waiting, witness, wonder   

Scripture Connections: Even the sparrow finds a home… (Psalm 84:3); blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth (Matthew 5:5); …look at the birds in the air, they neither sow nor reap… (Matthew 6:25-34); rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12); the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); put on then…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience… (Colossians 3:12)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or adults and consider having participants hold out their arms, feel the pain in their arms, imagine holding an animal, and talk about God’s high value for all creatures and endurance. 

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