Bertoltby Published 14 Mar 2017
|Publisher||Enchanted Lion Books|
My kids LOVE this book. It's been read at least twice a day since we picked it up from the library. It's about a little boy who describes himself as a loner. People aren't always nice to those who are different, but he doesn't mind. He has fun by himself. There's a wordless page showing what he does alone (Rowan asks every time how he plays chess by himself lol). But his favorite thing to do is climb his tree Bertolt. His favorite time of year is spring, when the leaves become a maze. When the boy realizes that Bertolt has died, he comes up with a solution to save him from becoming toothpicks. I found it weird that the last few pages didn't come with any words, but my kids loved these pages, filling them in for us and cheering for the boy. We talked about whether or not the boy's plan would work long term.
I really liked the message that you should embrace your differences despite what others think or say. It also dealt with dealing with the death of something you love.
My kids are going to be very sad when we have to return this to the library.
Huh. That was the exact thing I said when I realized the last page was indeed the last page. I had to check, make sure. Huh.
I loved the idea of a hero in a children's book who embraces--loves!--living a daily solitary existence. I appreciated the talent of the wispy, potentially expressive line art, even though it did nothing for me personally. I loved the idea of watching the world, of matching value for the life of nature--a tree--to the life of things more commonly valued--people, pets.
But it just didn't do much for me. It was flat. And somewhat mundane in wording. Nothing really outstandingly beautiful, no stop-and-think phrases.
Excellent book about being a loner and spending your time with trees and animals. SO good.
I decided to read all seven of the books Maria Popova (on twitter) says were the loveliest picture books of 2017:
This is the fifth of seven, Bertolt—funny that as a literary type guy, I would think it might be about Bertolt Brecht (wrong!). It is a book about an imaginative (which is not to say imaginary, though this is fiction) boy whose best friend is an old (at least 172-years-old!) oak tree named Bertolt. It’s a book about a solitary kid, and his imagination (obviously), the construction of a relationship, and then, more surprisingly, it’s about loss and grief, but I won’t ruin that surprise for you with any specifics.
Goldstyn did the story with subtly (which here means the opposite of LOUD and bold primary) colored and drawn illustrations to match the gently whimsical and reflective themes.
Just at the point I thought it was going on too long for its subject and theme, it suddenly and to my relief STOPPED talking altogether (became silent or wordless) all the way to the end, letting the images speak even more profoundly, which I found both simple and a little bit astonishing (in how the boy speaks to/recovers from/honors his loss).