Bridget’s Beret by Tom Lichtenheld. NY: Christy Ottaviano Books (a division of Henry Holt & Co.), 2010.
Tell me how many picture books manage to work in the phrase “je ne sais quoi?” I even had to use the tools online to hear someone pronounce it for me so I could read Bridget’s Beret aloud.
The dilemma in this title is that Bridget, who knows that all great artists like Sisley, Cezanne, Picasso, Rembrandt, and Monet wear berets, loses her beret to the wind one day. She very proactively works to find her beret, tries to adapt by wearing different hats, seeks solace from her friends, and even throws a temper tantrum or two like any”self- respecting artist.”
“But it was no use. Bridget had lost her beret. And with it, she was sure, her ability to draw.” – I love that page.
I understand that feeling. Sometimes when things are not just-right, it’s impossible to begin whether it’s writing or painting. If the routine is altered too much, the anxiety we feel is so strong, we cannot be rationale and just GET OVER IT. One day my assistant touched my desk. It took me 3 months to sit there again because I kept sighing, feeling despondent & utterly overwhelmed at the idea of ever putting it back together again so I could write. I was so obsessed that I could not move on. In fact, my fiance Ken has been remodeling my house this summer and the first room finished was MY office so that I could set something down and it would stay where I put it. When he tiptoed into the room to move a stray shirt off a chair, I may even have snarled at him. (Sorry, sweetie!)
Author/ illustrator Tom Lichtenheld throws in tiny jokes for us adults as well as a side bar explaining what artist’s block is at just the appropriate moment for the reader to explain it to the children. When Bridget’s sister helps her change her attitude to view making a poster for their lemonade booth as just a sign instead of a drawing, Bridget’s creativity can no longer be restrained. Soon she is painting again with delightful tributes to famous works of art. I wish my scanner was connected so you could see Swirly Lemonade in the style of Starry Night.
Bridget overcomes her artist’s block. She rediscovers her love of drawing. And we benefit from the meticulously detailed crediting to the artists highlighted in this story. I have caught obsessive adults flipping back to view every page once they read the tiny credits at the end of the book.
Whether it’s the big cheerful illustrations, silly puns, or the satisfaction of learning that blocks (and obsessions) can be overcome, this title has something to offer many listeners. I hope you benefit from the therapeutic aspect of a day spent with Bridget.