The Tale of Angelino Brown strikes an intriguing balance between the familiar and comforting day-to-day and the suggestion of something magical.
The eponymous angel protagonist appears quite suddenly in the pocket of bus driver Bert, who is feeling a little worn down by his years of service. The narrative deliberately makes this miraculous appearance both an oddity and yet also, something to embrace and take in one’s stride, which is what Bert and his wife Betty do.
Almond’s telling of the story is playful and objective, which allows the reader to enter into the story with a wider view of the messages it carries. These are bound up with the idea of there being goodness all around us, and that even those who are ‘bad’ have a grain of goodness within them, and can be reeducated to see the world differently. While this may sound a little evangelistic, the sheer joyful sentiment of Almond’s tale and his eccentric cast of characters leave the reader feeling content and invested in the outcome. There is an element of adventure here too, which draws us towards the end, wondering what will become of Angelino.
Alex T. Smith’s illustrations bring the aforementioned cast of characters to life perfectly and complement the playful style of the narrative. A great combination of classic narration and visual story telling.