Schami, Rafik, translated by Anthea Bell. Albert & Lila. Illustrated by Els Cools and Olvier Streich. North-South, 1999. ISBN 0-7358-1182-2. $15.95. 32 pp. A K-3 PB Reviewed by Lanell Rabner All the pigs in the farmyard are happy except Albert. Albert was born different from the rest of the pigs--he has white, not pink, skin--and the pink pigs always laugh at him. Albert spends a lot of time alone,”dreaming of a world where all the pigs are white.” One day, Albert meets Lila, an old chicken who can no longer lay eggs and lives in fear of being thrown into the farmer's cook pot. Lila asked the other farmyard hens to loan her eggs so her nest would never be empty and even offered to tell their chicks stories in exchange for eggs, but no one was interested, and the rooster chased her out of the henhouse. Lila and Albert, both outcasts, play together all day long, despite the laughter from the other hens and pigs. At night, they hide in the hay until the farmer has closed up the pigsty and henhouse; then they sit on the dung heap, looking at the moon, telling each other their dreams. One night, as they sit together in the moonlight, Lila and Albert see a wily fox stealing across the farmyard, heading for the henhouse. Quickly, Albert devises a cunning plan to trick the fox and save the hens. The angry fox, running for his life, swears never to return to the farmyard again. Albert and Lila are now heroes! Everyone decides it is okay for pigs and chickens to play together on the dung heap, but Albert still likes Lila the best of all the animals in the yard. A delightfully warm tale of friendship and acceptance. Imaginative, vibrant illustrations playfully help children understand that being different is okay.
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