A lot of people like to spend time with friends so they can talk and do things side by side.  This young fellow is not that kind of people. He likes to do things by himself.  In fact, he describes himself as a "loner."  Being alone makes him happy, not sad.  He makes pies, rides his skateboard by the light of the moon and creates adventures for himself.

When he needs a friend, he heads out to his old friend, Bertolt,  the old oak tree.  Bertolt is a glorious tree.  He is about 500 years old and has thick, deep bark with places for hands to grab.  His lowest branches are about 15 feet from the ground so other people don't come to climb him.

Our young friend reaches up and up and navigates the enormous branches so he can look out over the town and get a good look at life and all the goings-ons.  From his perch he can see the good and the bad.  He can observe and take it all in and get a good understanding of what others are doing.

One part winsome, two parts happy, three parts wise, this gorgeous story of a boy and his friend, Bertolt, will reassure all those wonderful children who like to watch, and think things over and figure things out about the world without a lot of talking and interruptions.

This would be a wonderful story to pair with The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater.  Where one boy finds reassurance and answers by watching and learning on his own, turns out a fox might want friends he could ask.  Both are right and needed in our world.  Different isn't wrong or bad or scary.  It's just different.

80 pages  978-1592702299   Ages 4-9

Editor's Note:  Heavily illustrated; spare text; quick read

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


This is a charming, touching story about an imaginative boy whose best friend is an oak tree named Bertolt. The boy admits to being an outlier among his peers, but insists that while he is alone, he is never lonely. Being independent suits him, and he considers his difference to be his advantage.

This book is about the imagination and the wonderful ways in which we nurture ourselves in the process of becoming who we are, and because Bertolt dies in a winter’s storm, it is also a book about finitude and loss, sorrow and acceptance.

Jacques Goldstyn was born in 1958 in Saint-Eugène Argentenay. A graduate of the University of Montreal, he worked in petroleum geology. In 1981, he illustrated his first book: Les Débrouillards, a collection with a scientific bent. He has illustrated numerous books about the same cast of characters, and works with the press as well.--from the publisher


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