For picture book fans in the late 1930s, this award-winning book made an impression with the vivid storytelling in Hey, Al by Arthur Yorinks and illustrated by Richard Egielski.
The story by Yorinks focuses on a man named Al, and his dog Eddie. Al works as a janitor and life isn’t fun. Al and Eddie talk about how much better it would be to move and leave behind their dingy apartment and working as a janitor.
And one 6day, a bird arrives and tells them they can escape to paradise.
Al and Eddie arrive at a beautiful island, but then begin to realize that they are no longer themselves, but birds and that the island is not paradise but a prison. And home seems so much better.
So as the duo plot their escape, their realization that all is not always perfect elsewhere.
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in 1986, Hey, Al’s strengths was Yorinks dialogue for Al, having him speak like someone from New York City, while the vivid illustrations by Egielski.
The duo were both disciples of famed children’s author/illustrator Maurice Sendak, who introduced them to his editor at Farrar Straus & Giroux.
Those notable illustrations resulted in the book winning the Caldecott Medal in 1987, the 50th anniversary year of the award.
Yorinks and Egielski have collaborated on nine picture books and this collaboration was their fourth book together and the first to gain national and international attention .