Monday 14 January 2013

Bernie and Flora

Bernie and Flora written and illustrated by Annemie Berebrouckx, translated by Laura Watkinson (Book Island)
PB RRP NZ$19.99 AU$15.99
ISBN 9780987669612
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Bernie Loves Flora is a picture book that will fill your heart with joy. The story of Bernie the bear, Flora the duck and a flower garden is one of sharing and the 'warm glow, deep inside' received from true love and friendship.

Flora and Bernie are best friends and Flora loves nothing more than helping Bernie in his flower garden. So when she arrives one morning to discover his flowers have vanished, and no sign of Bernie, she rushes off to find who has done this dreadful thing. She questions Bernie's friends but to no avail.

With the warm glow inside Flora now gone, she returns to her own home to find Bernie inside, surrounded by masses of flowers from his garden. He declares his love and asks Flora to live with him and 'the two of us together can make a garden full of beautiful flowers'. It is an offer Flora gladly accepts.

The text throughout is beautiful. Lovers of gardens will identify with 'he breathes in the scent of the flowers and feels the joys of spring tickling inside his tummy' and Belgian Annemie Berebrouckx's gorgeous illustrations truly represent this with flowers spilling across the pages. The manner in which Ms Berebrouckx captures the the emotions of Bernie, and particularly Flora as she experiences feelings of joy, outrage, surprise and contentment, is superb. The illustrations are highlighted by plenty of white space so, despite their colour and intensity, they are not overwhelming to younger readers.

Bernie and Flora has been translated into English from the original Dutch and is one of the three inaugural releases of newly established independent New Zealand publisher, Book Island, which focuses on translations of outstanding children's books. (Read my review of another top Book Island release, Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich.) 

Bernie and Flora is the first book in a series and comes with a colouring-in page. An additional nice touch is the inclusion of meanings of the names Bernie and Flora as well as the meanings of particular flowers. I highly recommend Bernie and Flora as a gentle and heart-warming story.

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