Bertie the Bouncy Beachball (The Toy Library Stories)
Mandy Woolf (author) Elmira Georgieva (illustrator)
Leschenault Press (2022)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (10/2022)
“Bertie the Bouncy Beachball (The Toy Library Stories),” by award-winning author Mandy Woolf, and illustrated by Elmira Georgieva, opens the imagination while offering the timeless message of finding self-acceptance and nurturing self-worth.
This is an adorable little book that both children and adults can like. The plot involves a beachball named Bertie, who lives on a shelf in the Toy Library. But no one seems to notice him because he’s wedged between other toys, who seem to be busy doing their own thing: The shovel is ready to dig, the water can is ready to pour, the wagon is ready to roll.
But what about Bertie? He’s ready to bounce, but he can’t, he can only roll. He wears patches and is probably a little deflated. Stuck on a shelf with these other toys, he feels forgotten and useless when children come in to pick them instead of him. He wants badly to be chosen, but he is overlooked. Maybe next time. But then Rosie comes in, and this changes everything. She sees beyond his deflation and outward appearance, and realizes that he could be fun anyway, just the way he is. Yes, he rolls instead of bounces, but it’s still fun. He bumps into the other toys, but it’s still okay. After some encouragement from Sandcastle, he bends his knees and discovers that he can now actually BOUNCE, just like he always wanted to. Rosie and her friend Esther are delighted. He bounces so high, right into the sky, and everyone is looking at him now.
Woolf has created a cute little character-driven story with something to say to young and old alike. Bertie just wants to be himself and bounce high, but no one wants to give him a chance. There are several lessons here to learn: of recognizing that beauty comes from the inside as well as the outside, and that it’s important to see the worth in everyone, no matter what they look like on the outside.
Bertie is such a cute and sentimental character, it makes you want to read more about him, and you are happy for him in the end, that others let him shine. The power of possibility is another good lesson learned from Bertie’s story, and that we can do a lot if we just try harder. The questions at the end offer children food for thought, about emotions and giving attention to others.
“Bertie the Bouncy Beachball (The Toy Library Stories),” by Mandy Woolf, is the perfect little story to foster acceptance and self-worth.