Terri Schlichenmeyer: The Bookworm Sez 8-13-12
Sometimes, you just need a change.
There are times, for instance, when a different window to the outside offers a whole new perspective. A new restaurant, fresh wardrobe, vacation somewhere you’ve never gone, even just moving the furniture around can make all the difference in the world.
And then, there are those changes that alter one’s future. In the new book “Albert of Adelaide” by Howard Anderson, one of those is on the horizon.
Albert had been patient. He knew that someone would eventually become careless and make a mistake. All it would take was one person to leave the cage open and when that happened, Albert bolted. He’d had enough of the zoo and the people staring at him.
After a few hours in the Australian desert, though, he almost turned back. Water was where a platypus like Albert belonged, and the heat along with blowing sand was almost more than he could bear. Still, he had to keep going. All the animals at the zoo had told him of a land untouched by humans, where animals lived without the threat of capture, and he had to find that place.
Instead, his first discovery was Jack.
Jack had been singing into the wind and, delirious with thirst, Albert followed the song and stumbled into the wombat’s camp. Jack became a good mate, eager to share sardines and blankets, and happy to take Albert to town so he wasn’t naked anymore.
But going to town wasn’t maybe such a good idea. The kangaroo that owned the General Store also owned a bar and when two bandicoots started buying gin shots and Albert got rather inebriated, things got a little out of hand and Jack set the place on fire.
Jack the wombat, apparently, was a bit of a firebug.
But since a platypus isn’t, technically speaking, a marsupial and since there aren’t a lot of platypuses in the Australian outback, the whole melee was blamed on Albert. Because of that, Albert knew he needed to keep moving but with a price on his head and no idea where he was going, that wouldn’t be easy at all…
I must admit, I wasn’t excited about “Albert of Adelaide” at first. The beginning twenty pages, normally so critical in capturing attention, almost lost mine.
But then I warmed up to this Platypus Dundee and his walkabout, and it wasn’t long before author Howard Anderson had me hooked on his Animal-Farm-meets-Lonesome-Dove-like creatures and their adventure.
What’s wonderful about this book, I think, is that the further I got into it, the more I forgot I was reading about a conscientious platypus, a pyromaniac wombat, two alcoholic bandicoots, a seafaring raccoon, and a limelight-loving Tasmanian devil. I’d read something like, “They shook paws,” and was subtly reminded that these were no ordinary characters.
And this is no ordinary book. It’s quirky, takes some getting used to, and is very, very different. But if you’re up for that kind of novel, then “Albert of Adelaide” is a nice kind of change. ❖
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