Bernie and Flora is a delightfully illustrated children’s picture book by a Belgian author, which has been translated into English.
An initial reading of the story made me wonder about the translation – it is more formal than spoken New Zealand English, and I wondered how this would sound read aloud. Silent reading made it feel a little clunky, in part due to the use of present tense. To test it out, I read the story aloud to my class of five and six year olds, and had no issues apart from having to check for understanding on the odd word like “clipping”.
The vocabulary used in the story is rich and varied, giving children exposure to lots of different verbs, which is great.
My class enjoyed the story very much, particularly the illustrations. Several children in my class took the opportunity to look at the book again during their reading time, which is a definite vote of confidence in the story. One child commented that the book was too short, as she likes being read longer stories. I disagree with her! From the perspective of someone who does a lot of reading aloud, the story is the perfect length – particularly if reading at bedtime.
From an adult’s point of view the ending may feel a little saccharine – but it’s possible I’m just very cynical! I won’t give anything away as to what the ending is, but it does set Bernie and Flora up to have further stories told about them, which is clearly Berebrouckx’s intent. The main themes are love and kindness – and I don’t think there’s much risk of over-exposing our children to these ideas.
Reviewed by Rachel Moore – a primary school teacher who loves sharing books with her students.
Bernie & Flora
by Annemie Berebrouckx
Published by Book Island