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Review of Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days in My Life So Far

Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days in My Life So Far
by Catharina Valckx; illus. by Nicolas Hubesch; trans. from the French by Antony Shugaar
Primary, Intermediate    Gecko    88 pp.
4/17    978-1-77657-124-6    $16.99
Paper ed.  978-1-77657-125-3    $14.90

In six brief chapters, Bruno, a small cat in a blue checked cap, recounts in turn the peculiar, stupid, less-than-perfect, and almost-perfect goings-on of his life (so far). In a busy city packed with apartment buildings, shops, and canal boats, Bruno is joined by a motley crew of friends and foils — including Ringo the old pony, Gerard the dreaded wolf, and Georgette the nice plump turtledove — often finding himself in the middle of the action. Some chapters are chock full of the surreal and extraordinary (a lengthy tale of a lost fish swimming through mid-air), while others focus on the more quotidian (a two-page, four-sentence chapter musing on the beauty of candlelight during a power outage). Each scenario is presented in a straightforward, conversational tone and through playful, observant art. Bruno himself is a dichotomous blend of childlike sensibility (“We came up with the idea of all going together to the station. But not to catch a train…to play on the big escalators!”) and budding philosopher (“I thought of how days go by, like clouds, each one different”) who unquestionably belongs in and to his weird and wonderful world. Recurring characters and visual details — drawn in a slightly unsteady, inviting black line — produce a rewarding interconnectivity between chapters. A superb early reader/early chapter book import and kindred spirit to Emmanuel Guibert’s Ariol series.

From the July/August 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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About Patrick Gall

Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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