Alfred Zector: Book Collector
Illustrated by Macky Pamintuan
HarperCollins Publishers, 2010
Alfred Zector is the epitome of a bookworm. As a young boy, he wanted to belong. But he soon discovers that books brought him extreme pleasure. However, Alfred’s bibliophilia begins to boarder on the side of bibliomania. Alfred's cabinets are devoid of dishes and crammed with books. He can clearly see the swaying stacks of books that surround him, but he proclaims, "Not enough. I must have them ALL!"
Alfred searched high and low to collect all the books in town. The final book to collect was one from a young child. Alfred traded his shiny red bike for the book as, "His fingers, they trembled. His eye held a tear." Finally, as he was in possession of all the books in town, he stocks his house up with food and supplies and locks the door. There he stayed, for years, reading the books in which he had collected. Alfred read everything from, "Seuss to Shakespeare."
Meanwhile, the other members of the community became, "quite dullish, plain dreary, and wholly humdrum." Children in the town had NEVER been read to before!
Eventually, Alfred had come to the end of his collection. Now an old man, he had read every book. When he realizes that the book collection is blocking the door to his house, barring him from exiting, the excitement books once gave him turned into panic. Alfred climbed up, out of the house through the chimney. Once outside, he spotted a rusty old bicycle coming over the hill. Then, like a light bulb, Alfred realized what he must do. He through the young boy a book and proclaimed, "There's more where that came from! Go spread the word." Soon, Alfred was out of his house and giving books away to the towns people. People started reading again as Alfred declared, "The best kinds of books are the books that are shared."
Frightened that this children's book might take a twist like that Twilight Zone with Burgess Meredith, I was pleasantly surprised at the the turn of events in Alfred's life. For students, this book can show the dangers of overindulging in anything. Truly, moderation would have been the best thing for Alfred. For a few pages in the middle, I thought his family and friends might call Hoarders.
The vibrant colors and artwork of Macky Pamintuan keeps the fun going throughout this book. Accompanied by DiPuchhio's rhyming verse, the pace is fast. I enjoyed this book because of the fun and it was about books. But I can only hope that the message of temperance is not lost in the hurried tempo. Alfred is to be admired, but he should also stand as a lesson of self-control.