21 February, 2014

Albert of Adelaide by Howard L. Anderson [Elizabeth, Highland Park Library]

 Albert of Adelaide is an appealing and witty novel. It could be described as a children's book for adults and if you have ever read the modern children's classics Abel's Island  by William Steig, or E. B. White's Charlotte's Web,  you will know that is praise. It has anthropomorphic characters, a naive hero on a quest which exposes him to danger and self-discovery and themes of loyalty and friendship. Albert is the lone platypus in an Adelaide zoo where the indigenous animals dream of Old Australia, somewhere in the northern desert, the last remnant of the land as it was before they were before they supplanted by European man and his accompanying animals.                                                           
When Albert takes advantage of a keeper's lapse to escape from the zoo he follows the South Australia train tracks, or rather the trail of broken glass bottles that have been thrown from the  carriage windows, to the end of the line and thence to his promised land. Old Australia is not what Albert expected. While there are no humans, dogs or horses,  the animals carry rifles, wear clothes and get drunk and "almost everyone he had met made their living by stealing,cheating, gambling, or burning things down... Albert had come to the conclusion that another key to survival in Old Australia was in picking a criminal element you liked and sticking with it." Old Australia is a downunder wild west yet Albert does not lose his decency and idealism.

The author's unpretentious, almost storytelling style of narrative and dialogue create a convincing Australian setting and characters even though he is an American. I believe this story would make a very satisfying and entertaining audiobook. It is published by the TWELVE publishing house whose mission is to publish no more than twelve books per year, "Works that explain our culture; that illuminate, inspire, provoke, and entertain." You can read more about them at www.twelvebooks.com

Title: Albert of Adelaide
Author; Howard L. Anderson
ISBN: 9781455509621 (hardcover)
Published: 2012
Publisher: Twelve   

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