Bertolt

Jacques Goldstyn, trans. from the French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-59270-229-9
The boy who narrates Canadian artist Goldstyn’s story doesn’t mind being different. When he loses a mitten, he gets a new one from his school’s lost-and-found box, even though it doesn’t match. He prefers the company of his favorite tree, a venerable oak he names Bertolt. The boy knows every crevice, every turn of Bertolt’s magnificent branches: “When Bertolt is covered with leaves, nobody can see me, but I can see everyone else.” Goldstyn spends a leisurely time laying all of this out—his impish, loopy drawings recall the work of the French cartoonist Sempé—and Bedrick’s translation flows easily. When spring comes, the other trees burst into leaf, but not Bertolt: the tree has died. To give life to Bertolt one last time, the boy hangs the rest of the lost-and-found mittens on the ends of every branch. Because of the time and care Goldstyn spends describing Bertolt’s many pleasures, the tree’s death is a jolt, and the boy’s sweet memorial offers only limited comfort. Yet the story is beautifully observed, and readers will look forward to more from Goldstyn. Ages 4–9. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
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