Kate Kelly (text), Albert Evans (illus.), Albert Has Two Homes Now, Forty South Publishing, 13 April 2017, 32pp., $20.00 (hbk), ISBN: 9780995408289
When Albert’s parents decide to separate, the four-year-old boy initially feels confused and scared. However, with ongoing love, support and encouragement from his parents and extended family, he gradually learns to adjust to the changes with a positive, confident outlook. Albert discovers that it’s fun to share two houses – one under the mountain with his mother, and the other high above the bush with his father. He also realises that even though his circumstances have changed, the important things – such as having two parents that love you – remain the same.
This picture book about family separation and resilience is aimed at young children, around 3 to 7 years old. It becomes even more poignant when you learn from the back matter that the Albert in the story is actually the book’s illustrator, and his mother is the author. It all came about when Kate Kelly and her husband went through a real-life separation. Kate used her experience as a writer and visual artist to help her son Albert deal with his emotions. The two sat down together to draw and talk about Albert’s feelings, and this book was born from the collaboration.
Having a four-year-old illustrate and provide the bones of the story gives this book a rare authenticity that reflects the child’s point of view. Kate has moulded Albert’s words into text that remains simple and accessible. Albert’s artwork is distinctive and eye-catching. The design is unusual but unobtrusive, with text on most left-hand pages, drawings on the right, and over the standard 32 pages.
Back matter includes information about using art as therapy, with suggestions for activities and materials. There’s also an adorable photo of the author/illustrator “dynamic duo”.
This book is both entertaining and interesting, and will appeal to general readers as well as those experiencing family-related issues. It would make a useful teacher’s resource in junior classroom discussions about families.
Reviewed by Julie Murphy