Al is one big, scary-looking fish with a set of sharp teeth to match. But he is only menacing on the outside. Al would love to make a friend, but one look at him and all the other fish swim away as fast as their fins will propel them. The huge fish sees their point: "How could he expect little fish to trust a great big fish with eyes and skin and TEETH like his? So Big Al was lonely, and cried big salty tears into the big salty sea."
Poor Al does everything he can to appear less frightening: covering himself with seaweed, burrowing into the sand to look smaller, even changing color to match other fish. But nothing works, and the big guy is beginning to think he will never know what it is like to have a friend.
All that changes one day when danger approaches in the form of a fishing net. When Al sees all the other fish trapped inside, he does not hesitate to use his fierce-looking teeth to cut them free--at the risk of being caught in the net himself! Needless to say, the liberated fish look at Al with new eyes, and their rescuer has at last found what he has always wanted: friendship.
Andrew Clements, the author of such blockbusters as Frindle, the Pets to the Rescue series, and Because Your Daddy Loves You, shows his versatility with this spot-on story of friendship and not judging by appearances. Yoshi's luminous illustrations perfectly capture the atmosphere and mood of Al's story. Kids will readily absorb the important lessons of this tale even as they are being entertained. Big Al and its sequel, Big Al and Shrimpy, are naturals for storytime, one-on-one reading, and reading alone. 32 pages. Ages 4-7
Recommended by: Basya Karp, LIbrarian, New York USA