Can Bert do it? Can he take the plunge off the branch and launch himself into the yonder?
In this sweet-toned, encouraging, minimalist picture book for young listeners, Könnecke has set up a simple tableau for all but the last few pages. Page right: a few leaves, a hint of a nest and a branch, along which Bert, a little (except for his beak) red bird, troops back and forth. Page left: a great, white expanse, void except for a doodley cloud or two. Bert walks to the end of the branch. He fluffs his feathers. He walks back, then returns with a banana. He eats the banana and peers over the end of the branch. “Come on, Bert,” urges the text. Bert waffles. “Bert? / BERT!” Bert launches himself into the ether, covering his eyes with a wing, which makes flying problematical. (“Help,” he says in tiny letters as gravity takes hold.) But—ha!—surprise: Bert’s jumping into a swimming hole. Pretty tricky, pretty clever even. Bert’s three pals in the water cheer for Bert: “When Bert says he’ll do something, he does it.” Not a bad message, either, with a delivery as light as a feather.
A winning example of less is more. (Picture book. 3-6)