Bambert's Book of Missing Stories by Reinhardt Jung
|Bambert's Book of Missing Stories by Reinhardt Jung|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Bambert releases his stories from his attic window and waits to see from where they will return. A unique book which is beautifully written and illustrated which will be a delight to share with the older confident reader or teen. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 112||Date: September 2008|
|Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd|
Bambert was a very small man who could only walk with a stick and even that was very painful. Throughout his childhood he'd endured many painful operations in the hope that he would grow but eventually it was accepted that he would never be any taller. After his parents died he adapted the family home to suit himself. The local grocer had his shop on the ground floor, but above that the house was Bambert's and the furniture was small enough to suit him. There was even an electric chair lift to carry him right up to the attic window where he could look out at the world.
He was an exceptional writer but he was the only person who knew this as no one else had ever read any of his stories. They were all written down in his Book of Wishes and one overcast night he realised that they were frozen there. For the stories to come true, to find their natural setting they would need to be released. He tore the stories out of the book, attached them to paper balloons powered by tea lights and on windy nights he sent them out to find their place in the world. The final story was not yet written but when all the pages were released Bambert felt happier than he had ever felt in his life.
If I have one concern about this book it's that its format and the name of the illustrator – Emma Chichester Clark – will tempt the unsuspecting into buying it for young children. I'm a cynical adult, a jaded reviewer and some of these stories made me cry. Many of them have a very dark edge and they'll be best appreciated by the older confident reader who no longer believes that everything in the world is good.
The first story came back from Ireland and Bambert set The Eye in the Sea on the west coast. One morning a boy collecting flotsam and jetsam from the beach noticed a strange shape in the bay. Wading out into the shallows he felt that he was being watched – and then he saw the eye. Cupping his hands the boy poured sea water over the eye to keep it from drying out in the wind and silently the whale communicated with the boy. A century before a small whale had been stranded in the bay and the adults were going to slaughter it but the children helped the whale to escape back to the sea. The whale, old now, had returned to give his thanks and to say goodbye. It was only when he returned home that the boy discovered that his father's great-grandfather had been one of the rescuers.
Each story, just a few pages long, returns and Bambert gathers them all together. They're all magical, ingenious and you can't help but feel that you've somehow been drawn into the good or the evil that men do to each other. I openly wept at the story of the barefooted children from the concentration camp escaping from their guards on ice floes in the Oder river. Eventually all the stories return and the final heart-breaking chapter is written.
The Daily Telegraph describes this book as one of the hundred books which every child should read. I'd qualify that and say that it's a book which every child should share with their parents as many need to be put into context and sensitive children will need reassurance. It is worth the effort though. The writing is superb, without a wasted word and tribute must be paid not only to the author but also to Anthea Bell who translated the book from the original German. The illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark have a much darker tone than those found in her own books but they set the scene beautifully. It's a book to read, to treasure and to return to time and time again.
I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this book appeals to you then we think that you might appreciate the work of Elizabeth Laird.
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