You Can Do It, Bert!

You Can Do It, Bert! tr. from German by Catherine Chidgey. illus. by Ole Könnecke. 36p. Gecko Pr. Mar. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781927271032.
PreS-K—A small bird stands at the end of a branch preparing for his big day. He is mentally and physically prepared but nervous as he stands at the edge. "Bert checks everything one more time," and children watch him transform from tentative to determined. On the final spread, he is seen falling through the air with one word appearing above his head—"Help." While the story focuses on whether Bert is brave enough to make the leap, a surprise twist shows that the reason for his action may not be what readers expect. With minimalistic illustrations, an expressive little orange bird, and lots of white space on each page, the book is a natural for preschool storytimes. A good choice for those embarking on a new adventure.—Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga Public Library System, OH
Bert, a small bird, walks to the end of a branch, trepidation on his face. He looks like he's about to take a running start...but no, he's not. Finally, he takes the leap--into a pool of water where friends are waiting. Simple shapes, minimal detail, and direct-address text keep attention on the action. Preschoolers faced with new experiences will identify with Bert.
A small red bird walks out to the end of a slender tree branch, trepidation written all over his face. "This is Bert. It's his big day." A brief, direct-address text follows Bert as he flaps his wings, checks his environment, and looks like he's about to take a running start…but no, he's not. ("Come on, Bert. Bert? BERT!") Finally, he takes the leap -- not, as our expectations have led us to believe, into the air for his first flight but down into a pool of water below, where three friends are waiting. (Adorably, his fledgling friends are all wearing water wings or using an inner tube.) Konnecke uses the picture book format simply but brilliantly. For much of the book we see just Bert and the branch set against empty white space; Bert paces the tree branch on right-hand pages while the text occupies the left pages. When Bert jumps, however, he launches himself across the gutter, breaking the plane, and the Big Reveal uses the whole spread to portray Bert's pride ("I did it!") and his friends' joy in his achievement. Primary colors pop effectively out from the background white space; simple shapes and minimal detail keep readers' attention squarely on the action. ers faced with daunting new experiences will identify with Bert; both the humorous twist and the broad smile on Bert's face as he dives off the branch for another go should help ease their fears. martha v. parravano

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