Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Bert en Bart

These are two of the funniest kids’ books I’ve read as an adult. Bert and Bart are the prototype Ameritrash bad boys, only interested in transforming every/any artefact into a weapon to recreate their fantasy battles. In this case against aliens.

Bert and Bart Save the World. Now with extra aliens!

The real opponent in these books is their mother Viola, a treehugging fairy that just wants everything to be nice. So in the first book she removes their weapons and forces them into a regime of art and treehugging, with limited success.

Hug the tree and like it!

This leaves earth defenceless at the arrival of the aliens whose desire to destroy earth is only limited by their fear of Bert and Bart´s deadly weapons. Bert and Bart have to improvise to save the world.

The great thing about these books is the seamless match between text and illustrations. The deadpan conversations between Bert and Bart are matched by sullen, confused, bemused and bored expressions. Not easy to pull off.

Well, you asked us to draw fairies...

In the second book Bert and Bart face the terrible doctor Dwangman, avowed ´brainpresser´ and champion of science, who is enlisted by their mother to get them to pursue physical activity rather than reading their zombie comics.

Bert And Bart And The Kiss Of The Zombie. Contains Over 46 Zombies!

Of course doctor Dwangman has scientific evidence that reading is bad for kids and they are forced to exercise. Also, all the zombie comics have been removed from the library. But the librarian has another book left, the zombie destruction manual, which they are allowed to borrow under the condition that they don’t use the spell on page 37. 

Guess what happens...

Bert and Bart set out to use the zombies in an effort to rid themselves of doctor Dwangman.

Obviously the authors are aware that their style of storytelling goes against the educational correctness of more tender hearted parents. The second book has markers on the back denoting violence and zombie guinea pigs in a parody on parental advisory warnings ...

Parental Advisory: 47 zombiers per 100 pages

...and two pages of possible complaints. With the suggestion to send them all to wastebin@bertenbart.nl 

Hamsters Suck!

 All in all two great short stories.

BTW, the first book was published as last year's free gift in the Children's Book Week, which made me very proud to live in this wonderful country!

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