Albie Newton (Josh Funk)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Albie Newton, written by Josh Funk and illustrated by Ester Garay, the story of a boy genius and his classmates learning how to be friends.

Albie isn’t quite like other kids. When he learned his numbers, he cried because he couldn’t count to infinity. He likes to learn a new language every week: English, Spanish, Hindi – even Klingon! Still, Albie is a friendly and happy young man, and excited to start his first day at a new school. When he hears his new classmates sing their morning song about friendship, Albie decides that he will invent a special gift to ingratiate himself to the others. Unfortunately, while Albie is obviously quite brilliant, he lacks social skills, and his habit of taking things without asking and overshadowing others with his work begins to upset the other children. But classmate Shirley convinces other kids to be patient with Albie – he means well, he just thinks differently. And sure enough, by day’s end, Albie has built them a gift that is astoundingly one-of-a-kind.

I liked this a lot. Albie does indeed do things that are generally perceived as rude. But the thing is, as smart as Albie is, he doesn’t understand that what he’s doing is unacceptable – he’s just trying to make a nice gift for his new friends. To me, this reads as an allegory for children with ASD or social/developmental disorders, and an effective one at that. It’s a good way of encouraging children with these disorders to consider how others may perceive their actions, and encourages children without them to be patient with their friends who may think or act differently from them. The illustrations are adorable and charming, and filled with clever details. The length was great, JJ enjoyed it, and we’re definitely calling this one Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)