Friday, August 30, 2019

Review - Aalfred and Aalbert

Aalfred and Aalbert
by Morag Hood
Date: 2019
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

A heartwarming love story of blossoming friendship between two aardvarks

Aalfred and Aalbert lead solitary lives. Sometimes, Aalfred thinks he might like to be part of a pair, and sometimes Aalbert thinks he might like to be one of two. But Aalfred sleeps all day, and Aalbert sleeps all night--so how will the two ever meet? Luckily, a helpful bystander intervenes and when Aalfred and Aalbert's paths cross in the most unexpected way, they find that they go together quite well, just like cheese and broccoli.

This adorable story about two aardvarks and an unlikely matchmaker will appeal to families with LGBTQ parents and family members as author-illustrator Morag Hood keeps children laughing with funny situations and entertaining teachable moments about relationships.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Classifying this as an LGBTQ book is a real stretch. I don't know if I would've even picked up on that if I hadn't read the synopsis. What's wrong with two people just being friends? Why does everything have to result in two people (or aardvarks, in this case) getting paired off? Aalfred and Aalbert are both so solitary that they don't even have any other friends; you'd think their priority would simply be getting to know other like-minded aardvarks... not searching for a life partner. But that's the premise this book goes with, subtly teaching kids that everybody needs to be in some sort of monogamous, two-person relationship, even if all you want to do is have someone to play badminton and share your cheese with.

The pictures are kind of cute, I guess, and I like the aardvarks' names (I thought they were Dutch at first, though I'm pretty sure it's just a play on the double "a" in "aardvark"), but I think the message of the book is just too "off" for me to really like it. Maybe if Aalfred and Aalbert had been shown having other friends, and simply wanting a special aardvark relationship in addition to all the others, I might have liked it more. It's not like they weren't nice guys; Aalfred is shown trying to cheer the little blue bird up, so we can tell he's kind. Which makes it all the more puzzling why both of these aardvarks are such loners...

For me, Aalfred and Aalbert are just friends. They're not shown doing anything particularly couple-ish, so I don't know why there's such a push to shoehorn this into the LGBTQ category.

Thank you to NetGalley and Peachtree Publishing Company for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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