Book Review: This platypus can kick butt

Albert of Adelaide by Howard L. Anderson; ISBN: 978-1-455-50962-0; Hardcover; 240 pages; $24.99; Published July 2012; Fiction; Published by Twelve Books, a division of HBGUSA.

Albert of Adelaide" by Howard L. Anderson is very reminiscent of "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, which was published in 1945. The main characters are animals that live their parts on center stage though the travails of lives are vastly different.

 Albert is a platypus who escapes from a zoo in Adelaide searching for "Old Australia." He is a delightful character who discovers he can be more than an object to be stared at in a cage. Carefully he travels along railroad tracks and crosses deserts, always questing for his dream like Don Quixote.

The immediate question about this book is whether it's strictly for children. The answer? No. This novel has messages embedded throughout which are definitely adult in nature.

Differences in animals demonstrate individuality. There are bandicoots, kangaroos and various other species, but there is only one platypus - a duck-billed male platypus with poisonous spurs who can take down an enemy. Albert learns he can fight and win. He obtains self-confidence so that he can become a leader.

Conflict is what normally keeps interest in many books and "Albert of Adelaide" has plenty. A posse goes into the desert in search of Albert for crimes he allegedly committed. The posse poisons water holes as part of the chase, using harmful methods but reasoning that the end justifies the means.

The animals in the tale have been humanized - they wear clothes, and some are quite persnickety about their appearance.  They continually need to have their outfits laundered. Albert, amusingly, carries a backpack in which he has tins of sardines given him by one of his acquaintances. Albert does not like sardines, but takes them anyway to give to others.

"Animal Farm" is a classic, recognized as one of the top 100 books of all time. "Albert of Adelaide" may not be in that category, but reading it is worthwhile.

Using animals to convey messages is a great way to explore the changes necessary in society. We all search for utopia. Most never find it, but those who do realize that accepting life as you live it will enrich your relationship with others.