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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  354 ratings  ·  81 reviews
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by Enchanted Lion Books
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Rachel Our daughter is 2 months shy of 3 and loves this book. I love this book, too. So late toddler-adult.

Community Reviews

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4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  354 ratings  ·  81 reviews

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David Schaafsma
I decided to read all seven of the books Maria Popova (on twitter) says were the loveliest picture books of 2017:

This is the fifth of seven, Bertolt—funny that as a literary type guy, I would think it might be about Bertolt Brecht (wrong!). It is a book about an imaginative (which is not to say imaginary, though this is fiction) boy whose best friend is an old (at least 172-years-old!) oak tree named Bertolt. It’s a book about a solitary kid, and his imagi
Elizabeth A
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, art, kids-ya, translated
I'm slowly making my way through The 7 Loveliest Children’s Books of 2017 as selected by brainpickings. You can see the list here:

This is the second picture book on the list that I've read and it's simply lovely. It's not often that I see stories about kids who like to be alone and enjoy their own company, so this was a delight. This is the story about a little boy and a tree he named Bertolt. The art is sketchy and cute, and I was was amused and touched
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fic-children
Huh. That was the exact thing I said when I realized the last page was indeed the last page. I had to check, make sure. Huh.

I loved the idea of a hero in a children's book who embraces--loves!--living a daily solitary existence. I appreciated the talent of the wispy, potentially expressive line art, even though it did nothing for me personally. I loved the idea of watching the world, of matching value for the life of nature--a tree--to the life of things more commonly valued--people, pets.

But i
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not very often does a book manage to pull off being charming. This book was sweet, smart, funny and charmed me into loving not only the book as a whole, but also into wishing that the main character was a serialized cartoon and could have more adventures. A book I read in a sitting and handed directly to my eleven-year-old.
Andrew Greenlaw-Houldsworth
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a sweet tale about a kid who plays alone, and likes it that way. Brilliant book for the loners who might not know it's okay to play alone. It's also a poignant story about loss, and how we cope. Awesome book.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
My kids LOVE this book. It's been read at least twice a day since we picked it up from the library. It's about a little boy who describes himself as a loner. People aren't always nice to those who are different, but he doesn't mind. He has fun by himself. There's a wordless page showing what he does alone (Rowan asks every time how he plays chess by himself lol). But his favorite thing to do is climb his tree Bertolt. His favorite time of year is spring, when the leaves become a maze. When the b ...more
Nancy Kotkin
A quiet boy loves spending time alone in nature, especially within the branches of a giant oak tree that functions as the boy's best friend. The heartwarming ending picks up an important theme and symbol from the beginning, strengthening the story's structure.

The subdued palette of the folksy drawings complements the story's themes. The boy's acorn hat deepens his characterization.

This book fills an important niche for kids who are introverts, loners, and/or nature lovers. And kids who aren't ca
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture
This surprised me. The illustrations are really great. The story is sweet. Kindness. Individuality. Loss. So much all wrapped into one.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Excellent book about being a loner and spending your time with trees and animals. SO good.
Sean Cox-marcellin
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Quirky and (literally) colorful. Breezes by tough problems with calm defiant buoyancy.
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Told in the voice of a young boy who is different from the others around him. He doesn’t mind wearing different colored gloves after he can’t find his lost one. He enjoys being alone most of the time, unlike the others in his town. His favorite place to be alone is in a huge oak tree that is named Bertolt. The boy spends his days up in Bertolt’s branches, weathering storms together, making friends with the animals and birds that live in the tree. The boy looks forward to spring when Bertolt’s le ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Some real winners in the village. (Maybe their behavior inspired the boy to become a thief at the end?) Also, do his parents know that he is hanging out in a tree during storms? I know this book is supposed to be a quiet philosophical inspirational thing, but it made me cranky.

Finally, note to the proofreaders: the font changes on the page that says "I know what to do when a cat or a bird dies. But what should I do for Bertolt?"
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although it probably won't work as a group read aloud due to the small size and tiny details in the illustrations, but, for those youngsters who are loners, yeah!!!!
Too many times we make introverts think there is something wrong with them and that they, "need to play with others." This book will encourage even extroverts to try some time alone, enjoying nature!
Jillian Heise
A quiet story to share with introverts in your classroom. Lovely, soft illustrations.
Would pair well with Wishtree or Sequoia.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A cute story about a boy who likes to be on his own and the tree he loves to climb. Beautiful, simply yet effectively coloured illustrations. Charming
Wendy Garland
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, picture-books
Best described by the book jacket "a story about loss, sorrow, and acceptance... and how through play and observation we come to know ourselves."
David Goetz
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children
Basically, an introverted boy loves an old oak tree, but the tree dies.

The boy says, "when you're different, people can laugh at you, or even worse." I wish the author had avoided this part; the description/depiction of the boy as introverted effectively normalizes introversion, but the comments about it promote the common us/them mentality with respect to intro/extraversion. In short, it will only make introverted readers self-conscious about their introvertedness, which will lead to shame or a
Feb 21, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky B
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
A little boy who enjoys doing things alone tells readers about his favorite spot, an old tree he's dubbed Bertolt, and all the fun he has there. When Bertolt fails to produce leaves one spring, the boy must come up with a plan to save his friend.

A cute story about a boy's love for a tree hang out/adventure spot. It's a bittersweet tale. The boy comes up with a cute and creative way to save his friend but the realist will wonder how long it will last. (The realist was also probably screaming at h
Madeline Krasnasky
I absolutely loved this book. The boys imagination and creativity captures the reader from the very first page. I admire that it expresses ones individuality to be alone but also shows how some people like to be social and interactive. One thing that really caught my attention in this book was that being different is ok and that some people may not agree with your choices. The book expresses some darker subjects such as death but bring positivity in saying how the boy pays his respect. I loved h ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
In life, you don't need a lot of friends. You only need one good friend who is by your side, day after day, through thick and thin. For one little boy, that best friend is Bertolt.

The book is charming, and the simple illustrative style embodies the innocence of the story. The narration is in first person, which makes it so heartwarming and does a beautiful job in tugging at your heartstrings.

What's incredible about this book is that even in it's simplicity it manages to pack in an abundance of
Guilherme Semionato
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
A big NO to the illustration of a cat run over by a car - a big, a huge NO. Besides that nightmare of a page, I don't think this is very strong. The pros: a boy that's quite a loner but doesn't mind it; celebrating a tree friend when said tree dies with colorful gloves. The cons: squeezing the colorful gloves early in the narrative in the most by-the-numbers fashion; but, mostly, the boy simply didn't come alive for me. There's no grief here, just slight exasperation, the soul-crushing connectio ...more
This is the story of a boy and his best friend, a tree named Bertolt. The boy loves climbing Bertolt's branches, hiding in the leaves, and looking out over the town. After Bertolt loses its leaves in the fall, the boy anxiously awaits the return of the leaves so he can climb again. But Bertolt's leaves do not return.

I enjoyed the illustrations in this book more than the story, but the story was good. Not great, just good. I liked the beginning, didn't like the middle, but loved the ending.
"But me ... I'm what you call a loner. I do stuff by myself, and it doesn't bother me one bit. Just the opposite."

Bertolt is a very big, very old tree that the main character loves to climb. He can hide among the leaves and see everyone else, though they can't see him. He can see for miles around. He makes friends with the squirrels, birds and even the bees. But when all the other trees have started to get their leaves, Bertolt remains bare. The boy knows that Bertolt is dead and he must do some
Jennifer Strong
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, children-s
Bertolt, an old old tree, is one little boy's best friend. He has the best time playing among the branches in spring. When spring comes around again, however, he discovers Bertolt has died. How can he honor his beloved friend?

This is such a sweet story! It deals with emotions, being a little different from others, death and loss, as well as friendship. The illustrations are lovely pencil sketch with minimal color. Recommended for kids over the age of five because it has a lot of pages, almost l
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. My daughter's Meemaw sent it as a gift when our younger turned 1, and our older (almost three) has not gone more than a few hours without requesting it. The pictures are engaging and the story addresses two difficult topics (being different and death) in ways that a pre-schooler can understand and doesn't scare them. My daughter is a kid who loves her space, and this book is giving her language to talk about that. We also have not talked about death at all, and the story line l ...more
J David
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bertolt is a lovely book for children with beautiful sensitive illustrations. The author is Jacques Goldstyn. a French Canadian from Montreal. It is the story of a little boy who is a happy loner. He is aware of various groups be they playing games or knitting with other ladies. But he wants to do his own thing and do it alone. It would be wonderful reading for a child who is a loner who can see the rewards that come with his choices. It has a cute, clever and imaginative ending. I highly recomm ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book that will speak to the introvert’s soul. A child loves spending time with his tree, Bertolt, more than anything else in the world. His quiet observations and problem-solving will win over the hearts of all that love to get some alone-time.

made my list of "Gorgeous picture books that capture magical independent childhoods:"
Jo Oehrlein
Dec 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A boy embraces his introversion and spends much time in an oak tree he names Bertolt.
From there, he views the world in all seasons.
Unfortunately, one spring, Bertolt does not bring forth new leaves. He has died.
It's a nice point about how knowing about the death was not a sudden thing, but gradual.
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