Hey, Al
by Arthur Yorinks, illus. by Richard Egielski
book talk

author/illustrator study

classroom connections

list of related books

web activity 



       The Caldecott Award

Web Page Information Compiled By:  Molly Hauck, Karolyn Schulte, Erin O'Toole, Lauren Jones & Julie Smith

Book talk

       "Hey, Al"  is the story of a man named Al who works as a janitor and lives on the West Side.  His favorite companion is his dog, Eddie.  Al and Eddie are inseparable.  Life was not easy for Al and Eddie.  They were always struggling.  One morning a bird called to Al and told him he had a solution for all of his problems.  Al and Eddie packed their bags and were ready to take off on an adventure with the bird.  The bird carried them to a magnificent island in the sky.  When they arrived on the island, everything was perfect and their problems seemed to disappear.  Just when Al and Eddie thought they had found their perfect paradise strange things started to happen, Al and Eddie began to resemble birds.   They discovered their paradise wasn't as magical as they thought it was and their only wish was to return home.  Al had an idea, using their wings they would fly back to their home on the West Side.  On their way home, Eddie became tired and crashed into the ocean.  He was gone. Al made it home but without Eddie he felt alone.  Fortunately, Eddie was a good swimmer and returned home safely to his buddy Al.  Al and Eddie were so happy to be back to their own paradise.

Critical Reaction

    The illustrations displayed in "Hey, Al" are very creative and change as the story develops. The illustrations start out very plain, with earthy tones. Also, when Al and Eddie are in the "real world" the pictures are contained in a box and are presented in a much smaller manner. On the other hand, when Al and Eddie are are taken to paradise, the illustrations are more colorful and take up both sides of the page. When Al and Eddie return from paradise, they are portrayed again in dull colors and in a boxed container.  In addition, the illustrations are extremely detailed and very realistic. When the illustrator puts the characters outside of the original picture box, it emphasizes a three dimensional perspective. Finally, all of the illustrations are very intricate and compliment the story as it is told.

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Author/Illustrator study


Arthur Yorinks: Arthur Yorinks was born on August 21,1953 in Long Island, New York. His father was a mechanical engineer, and his mother was a fashion designer. By watching his mother, Yorinks became very interested in art. Yorinks attended the New School for Social Research and Hofstra New College. He later taught theater arts at Cornell University, and he also worked at the American Mime Theater. In 1979, Yorinks founded "The Moving Theater". In 1990, Yorinks co-founded a children’s theater called "The Night Kitchen". Yorinks has written 16 children’s books and he enjoys dogs, opera, and art museums. He and his wife, Adrienne, made a book together called The Alphabet Atlas.


Richard Egielski: Richard Egielski was born on July 16,1952 in Queens, New York. His father was a political lieutenant, and his mother was a secretary. Egielski attended Catholic school, which he disliked very much. He then attended the New York High School of Art and Design. In 1970, Egielski attended the Pratt Institute, and then he graduated from the Parsons School of Design in 1974. Egielski was told his artwork was strange, until he met Yorinks, who loved his work. Their first book, Sid and Sol, was first published in 1977. Egielski is married to an illustrator named Denise Saldutti, and he enjoys playing the mandolin.

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Classroom Connections

These ideas are general and would have to be refined to suit the grade level and the particular students:

Art --

1.  The students could make a papier mache bird using the directions from the webquest.
2.  Create a bird puppet using old socks or paper bags.
3.  Create a rainforest using an old shoe box and construction paper.
4.  Write a letter to their best friend using a feather (as the writing tool).

Writing --

1.  Write a story about a fun time they had with their best friend.
2.  Write a descriptive story about what their fantasy world would look like.  (practice adjectives)
3.  Give the students a situation such as: What if Al and Eddie never returned to their
home, Would Al and Eddie have been happy in paradise?  What would have happened if the story ended differently?

Discussion --

1.  Have the student discuss how they feel about taking things for granted.
2.  Have the students discuss times in their life that they thought were going well but ended differently.

Creative Dramatics --

1.  Have each student choose a character (Al, Eddie, the large bird, and as many other birds pictured in the story) act out the scene in the story where Al and Eddie are greeted by all of the different birds.  Have the students make the noise that they think their bird would make.
Social Studies --
1.  Discuss maps and directions.  Have the students create a map leading to their favorite place, using bird footprints to show the direction they will be traveling in.
Science –
1.  Have the students research a bird of their choice and the habitat in which they live.
1.  Have the students make a bird glyph.
2.  Have the students make Less Than/Greater Than Birds.  Cut out the shape of a Less Than/Greater Than sign and let the students create their favorite bird on the shape.  Hand out bird seed or small food (Cheerios, skittles, etc.) and give the students an example such as 5 is greater than 4.  The students will use their food and their Less Than/Greater Than Bird to show an example of this problem.
3.  If each student was given a book, then the teacher could ask a question such as, How many different birds were pictured throughout the story?  or How many red birds were there in the story?
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List of related books

By Arthur Yorinks & Richard Egielski

Sid and Sal

Louis the Fish

It Happened in Pinsk

Oh Brother


Bravo Minski

By Arthur Yorinks

Whitefish Rides Again

Frank & Joey Go To Work

Frank & Joey Eat Lunch

The Miami Giant

Harry and Lulu

Illustrated By Richard Egielski

The Tub People

The Gingerbread Boy


Children’s Books About Birds

Crinkleroots 25 Birds Every Child Should Know

By Jim Arnosky

Everybody’s Everywhere Backyard Bird Book

Osborne’s First Nature Book- Birds

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Web activity

1.  Go to web site www.honoluluzoo.org/Tour.htm

2.  Choose bird from one of these three categories: African Savanna, Tropical Forest, or Islands of the Pacific.

3.  Click on "birds" under the category that you pick.

4.  Then choose a bird by name that might interest you.

5.  Click on the name of the bird. A picture of the bird and a write up about the bird will come up.

6.  Write two or three paragraphs about the bird, paying special attention to the features of the bird: colors,
     length of beak, shape, etc.

7.  When you are finished you will make a replica of your bird out of papier mache’.

8.  Go to the web site www.ktca.org/donnasday/creative/activ14.html

9.  Make a papier mache’ bird that resembles the bird that you chose from before.

10. If needed you can go back to the web site from the beginning to look at the picture of your bird again.

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