This is a charming, touching story about an imaginative boy whose best friend is an oak tree named Bertolt. The boy admits to being an outlier among his peers, but insists that while he is alone, he is never lonely. Being independent suits him, and he considers his difference to be his advantage.
This book is about the imagination and the wonderful ways in which we nurture ourselves in the process of becoming who we are, and because Bertolt dies in a winter’s storm, it is also a book about finitude and loss, sorrow and acceptance.
Jacques Goldstyn was born in 1958 in Saint-Eugène Argentenay. A graduate of the University of Montreal, he worked in petroleum geology. In 1981, he illustrated his first book: Les Débrouillards, a collection with a scientific bent. He has illustrated numerous books about the same cast of characters, and works with the press as well.
A 2017 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids Selection
A 2017 Booklist Editors’ Choice: Books for Youth Selection
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2017
An CBC Hot Off The Press Selection of April 2017
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of 2018
★"Humor, contemplation, and masterful illustrations."— STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus Reviews
"Crowning the canon of arboreal allegories is Bertolt by French-Canadian geologist-turned-artist Jacques Goldstyn — the uncommonly tender story of an ancient tree named Bertolt and the boy who named and loved it. From Goldstyn’s simple words and the free, alive, infinitely expressive line of his illustrations radiates a profound parable of belonging, reconciling love and loss, and savoring solitude without suffering loneliness."— Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
★"Goldstyn’s playful prose is similarly nuanced, alternating between humor, palpable admiration for the natural world, unflinching honesty, and in the story’s final spreads, no words at all. Reworking notions of both loss and what it means to be alone, this is an imaginative, introspective, and quietly profound paean to life’s little wonders."— Briana Shemroske, STARRED REVIEW, Booklist
"The story is beautifully observed, and readers will look forward to more from Goldstyn." —Publishers Weekly
"A lovely look at introversion, imagination and the power of being different and embracing it."—Waking Brain Cells
"Goldstyn manages to convey a world of emotions in his detailed drawings, and captures the feelings of childhood—both its playfulness and imagination, as well as the sense of smallness that comes with being a child in a world of adults.”— Bernie Goedhart, Postmedia
★"It is an intimate book that implores you to read it in hushed tones with quiet pauses. Its sadness holds beauty; its sweetness never threatens to become saccharine. Bertolt is a truly exceptional exploration of ephemerality."— Serah-Marie McMahon, STARRED REVIEW, Quill & Quire
"Full of quiet beauty, this 80 page picture book talks about love, loss, and acceptance in a way that is sweet and honest." —100 Scope Notes
"We all struggle with processing loss. Watch as this sad, thoughtful, yet clever little boy performs final ‘rites’ for Bertolt. It is a moment you won’t forget."—Vermont Country Sampler