Review Blog

Jan 23 2012

Bambert's Book of Missing Stories by Reinhardt Jung

cover image

Translated by Anthea Bell. Ill. by Emma Chichester Clark. Egmont, 2008. ISBN HB 9 7814 0523 640 9.
I highly recommend this book for 10 year olds to adults. A must read.
Who is Bambert and how are his stories missing? The title itself made me curious, the book captured me instantly and I read the entire collection of stories in one sitting.
Bambert is a recluse and lives above a grocer's shop in his own self contained world. He is very short and finds it painful to walk, even with the aid of a stick. He feels he would be pitied or mocked in public so the only person he sees is Mr Bloom the grocer downstairs, who provides him with all of his requirements.
Bambert's talent is writing stories which he records in his 'Book of Wishes'. Bambert realises his stories need to be set free and one night he releases each of the 11 stories on its own small hot air balloon to be found and then returned to him by the finder, telling him where they had been discovered. The 11th story is blank and he hopes it will return written.
Each story is revealed on its return (from a variety of countries) and what a diverse and amazing collection they are. They include the sad and beautiful To the Eye of the Sea about a whale who returns after many years to find his young rescuer, to the more horrific and heart rendering tale of the escape of Jewish children from Nazi soldiers in The Glass Rafts.
Even though the book is in a larger picture book format, these poignant, emotional and at time disturbing stories are not for the young child. I would love to read this book out loud to a year 5-7 class, as each story leaves the reader with so many thoughts, feelings and even questions.
Emma Chichester Clark's illustrations fit perfectly with the text and the book has been beautifully translated from the original German by Anthea Bell.
What happens with the last unwritten story? I will leave you to find that out, but be prepared for a heart-wrencher and a surprise about the stories' actual journeys. The love and friendship that has been secretly bestowed on Bambert will bring a tear to the eye.
Jane Moore

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