Thursday, 6 February 2014

Bambert's Book of Missing Stories by Reinhardt Jung, illustrated by Emma Chicester Clark, translated by Anthea Bell

This is  beauty. And for a change, for older kids. The library marked our copy 12+ years, but I think confident readers of nine or ten could manage it. Written by Reinhardt Jung, former head of children's broadcasting in Stuttgart, it is translated (beautifully) by Anthea Bell. Good translations are so important!

Bambert's Book of Missing Stories is about Bambert, who lives alone. He is unusually small and can only wear childrens clothes. Tired of being misjudged by the  people he meets, he has become a reculse. Although he is relatively content, he has a nice house adapted to his needs, an extensive library that he loves and an arrangement with the grocer downstairs to have food delivered, he regrets none of the stories he has written have ever ventured out into the world.

And so he sends a note to the grocer requesting "eleven japanese tissue-paper hot air balloons." (just like the one that Danny the Champion of the World makes with his wonderful Dad!)

And waits for a cold night to send his stories off, one attached to each balloon (the settting has been removed from them, but the characters are intact). All are accompanied by a letter asking whoever finds it to send it back, telling where it was found, thereby where fate has decided the story should be set. Except for the last one, which was blank, waiting for someone to write it.

A year later, he gets the first story back, from Ireland. And the adventure has begun.

My son is at school, so I can't get a quote from him about this book. I do know though, that he wouldn't be parted from our borrowed copy last night for me to photograph it. And at seven this morning, when I went to see if he was awake, he was sitting up in bed reading it again. So I think that's a thumbs up.

P.s. It seems to be difficult to get a copy of this new, but most libraries should have one.

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