bert and form 2 b

  • author: Piret Raud
  • illustrator: Mārtiņš Zutis
  • translator: Maima Grīnberga

isbn: 978-9984-820-58-3

size: 13 x 19 cm

quantity: 144 pages

year: 2013

price: 6,40 €

The book’s original title in Estonian is ‘Tobias ja teine B’. However, there is already an extremely popular Tobias holding a firm place on the Latvian children’s book shelf: it is Tobias the Teddy-Bear created by Juris Zvirgzdiņš. The translator Maima Grīnberga was forced to secure the author’s permission for a name change and think of a different one for the boy – one that would carry a similar potential for nasty school nicknames in Latvian. She came up with Bert.
The events described in the book are bookended by the beginning and end of the school year. The Bert stories are much more realistic compared with the previous book by Piret Raud translated into Latvian, ‘Princess Skell and Mr Leton’, the protagonists of which were a princess who encounters a skeleton in her bathroom and the bony yet undeniably live inhabitant of the closet whose mission is guarding a box with the King’s secret inside.

And yet the same Estonian-style situational humour and a healthy ironic view of one’s misfortunes, as displayed by the protagonist, are present in the new book as well. While Bert suffers from allergies and winter depression and has both a dad who cannot hit a nail with a hammer and a mum who does not wear anything as glittery as his schoolmate Kirill’s mother, the book does not strive to offer a harsh portrayal of life’s more miserable side. The conflicts are real yet solvable; the classmates are friendly, and so are their families; the teacher is sensitive and the ending of each story is happy, always offering a little pat on the head to everyone.
The Latvian edition features illustrations by the artist Mārtiņš Zutis whose style is defined by lightness of touch and expressive details; memory has helped his hand conjure up the childhood experiences and situations.