A light-hearted tale of a boy who gains self-confidence with the help of some timely mentoring.
Albert is short -- very short -- and he hates it. His older brothers are tall like his father, but he takes after his petite mother. He wears too-large hand-me-down clothes from his bigger brothers. And worst of all, his very best friend moved away to Brooklyn during the school break. It was all so unfair.
Albert is beginning Middle School on Little Scrub, the small Caribbean Island where he lives. As he steps on the bus, and sees the older kids, he feels smaller than ever. They take one look at him and howl with laughter, chanting "Little Man, Little Man, you so small, didn't hardly see you at all."
Things go downhill from there, and would've stayed down if it wasn't for an encounter with Peachy, the leader of a troupe of stiltwalkers. The stiltwalkers do a lot more than walk: they dance and leap across the sand on spindly eight-foot high wooden stilts, their brilliantly colored costumes shimmering in the moonlight.
Peachy invites Albert to join the high school students he teaches to stiltwalk. It's not an easy decision for Albert. Would they laugh at him even harder than the Middle School kids? And he is queasy about heights. The thought of wobbling around on those skinny wooden sticks makes him woozy with fear.
But Albert is won over by the thought that one day he might actually be up there, tall as a palm tree, dancing around without fear or hesitation. Besides, desperate times call for desperate measures and nobody was more desperate than Albert.
Slowly, as his stiltwalking improves, Albert finds his self-confidence grows. He becomes less of a target for teasing at school and he makes some new friends.
Elizabeth Mann is the author of the award-winning Brooklyn Bridge, and others in the Wonders of the World series. She lives in New York and has a home in the British Virgin Islands.