Written by Cynthia Zarin, Illustrated by Pierre Pratt
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004
Albert liked to ride in taxis. Every morning he woke up filled with hope and sniffed the air for rain. If it rained, Albert knew, Mrs. Crabtree might take a taxi.
The plot in a nutshell: Albert sneaks out of his house and spends the day riding in various taxis and meeting new friends
Albert the dachshund lives in New York City and while his owner, Mrs. Crabtree, walks just about everywhere, there are times when he gets the luxury of taking a taxi, which he loves. One day, Albert sees a taxi door open while Mrs. Crabtree is talking to the doorman and he get away from her and jumps into the taxi before it drives away. The taxi drives a while before Albert sees a dog friend and starts barking, prompting the taxi driver to put him out of the cab. But Albert follows a woman into another cab and learns that she is preparing for a trip to the Kalahari. Then, in another cab, he meets two boys who are heading to the airport to fly to California. At the airport, he sees Mr. Crabtree, who thinks Albert has come to meet him.
Author Cynthia Zarin chooses her words carefully to give us the impression that Albert is a sophisticated city dog. He has “holiday excursions” and hopes his friend, Hortense, will “accompany him.” Illustrator Pierre Pratt adds color and vibrancy to the story with stylized artwork. Everything seems a little elongated, which makes me wonder if this is how Albert, a dachshund, sees the world. I really like the illustrations, especially those that showcase the New York City skyline, which always makes a great backdrop for a story.
The dog lover in me couldn’t fully enjoy this book because I was identifying with Mrs. Crabtree and thinking about how panicked she must have been, after seeing a taxi drive away with her dog in it. Aside from that (slightly neurotic) issue, this is a cute story. At the end, we get to see Albert curious about airline travel and dreaming of the world beyond New York City.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there are endless opportunities out there in the world, for those brave enough to take them.