Module 3: Hey, Al & Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears


Book Summary:

Al is a janitor who lives with his loyal pup Eddie in a cramped one-bedroom apartment on the West Side of New York. While Al is content with their life, Eddie is not. One day they get the opportunity to fly away to an island of birds in the sky. Al and Eddie love their new paradise until they discover some unexpected consequences: they begin growing beaks and feathers! Frightened of what begins to happen to them the longer they live on the island, Eddie and Al flee for their lives, and normal appendages. They struggle to make it back to their old life, and as the book ends, sometimes paradise lost is heaven found.

APA Reference of Book:

Yorinks, A. (1986). Hey, Al. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Hey, Al won the Caldecott Award for best illustrations in 1987. The stunning illustrations are definitely sure to please, but I am conflicted on the story itself. While I found Hey, Al to be fun, I also felt that it was a little lacking. I appreciate the notion of teaching kids to be happy with what they have and to make the best out of their current situation. However, I feel that this story almost borders on telling kids that because paradise may have some draw backs it’s better to not strive for betterment at all. All in all, I can definitely see how Hey, Al shows children that hard work is commendable and that even though something may seem perfect often there are flaws that will eventually be uncovered. I would say that this book is worth the read if for the illustrations alone. But personally, I would make sure that the kids understand that while the grass may not actually always be greener on the other side, it is important to always strive to achieve your goals.

Professional Review:

“Hey, Al is about self-enhancement, morality, and imagination. The genre of the story is Comedy, Action/Adventure, and Cartoon/comic, the setting is Contemporary and Fantasy, and the heritage is North American.

When Al and Eddie tire of their relentless struggle to survive on the West Side, they are carted away by a magical bird to a paradise. They change their minds when they turn into birds themselves, and race home to learn that ‘paradise lost is sometimes heaven found.’

Moral reasoning in the story focuses on concern for relationships and concern for law and order.

The theme of the story is Be thankful for what you have in life.”

Good Media Good Kids review

(2005).  [Review of the book Hey, Al, by A. Yorinks]. Good Media Good Kids. Retrieved from:

Library Uses:

Have a “Birds at the Library” day where you invite all of the kids to come dressed as their favorite bird, have pin the feather on the bird games, and let the kids make bird feeders to take home using toilet paper rolls, peanut butter and bird seed.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears


Book Summary:

Things go awry for a poor mosquito in this delightful west African folktale. A mosquito gets blamed for starting  a horrible chain reaction of events. The mosquito tries to talk to the iguana but rather than listen to the mosquito the iguana puts two sticks in his ears thus beginning a chain reaction with severe consequences.  As the creatures in the jungle try to find out what happened they must trace events back to the beginning, which ultimately leads them to the mosquito.

APA Reference of Book:

Aardema, V. (1975). Why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears was the Caldecott Award winner for best illustrations in 1975 and it’s no wonder why. These stunning illustrations brought life to the colorful west African tale about why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears.  I thought the story was fun until the mosquitoes chain reaction causes the momma owl to live through the death of her baby. As a kid I imagine that this would have horrified me, and I probably would have cried. Other than that I thought that this story was wonderful, it could most certainly be used to teach kids about causation.

Professional Review:

“”In this Caldecott Medal winner, Mosquito tells a story that causes a jungle disaster. “Elegance has become the Dillons’ hallmark. . . . Matching the art is Aardema’s uniquely onomatopoeic text . . . An impressive showpiece.”
-Booklist, starred review

(n.d).  [Review of the book Why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears, by V. Aardema]. Booklist. Retrieved from:

Library Uses:

This book reminded me of the game telephone that we used to play when I was a kid and I would have the children play it after reading this story. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Telephone is where you whisper something to one kid and then have them whisper it to another and so on. Then you see what the last kid thinks was said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s