Bambert’s Book of Missing Secrets
Originally published in German in 1998 as Bamberts Buch der verschollenen Geschichten, this edition of Bambert’s Book of Missing Stories comes with high production values, attractive design and typesetting, and fine illustrations in muted colours by Emma Chichester Clark. Severely disabled and confined to his apartment, Bambert writes stories and sends them out into the world in balloons so that they can find their own settings. They come back to him in the post, seemingly from all corners of Europe. The eleventh and final of these stories, left blank by Bambert, is completed by his friend after Bambert’s accidental death.
The individual stories are enjoyable on their own, while the narrative that interlinks them adds an extra layer of story and encourages reflection and interpretation. Clark’s illustrations reflect these two layers: the illustrations for the eleven stories are dominated by soft lines and warmer tones, while the illustrations showing Bambert and his friend are in sepia or greyscale tones and are dominated by straight lines and angles.
There is a strong sense of philosophical melancholy pervading this fine book of stories, and its structure encourages a certain amount of self-reflective and self-conscious reading, so that it seems to be most suitable for older children and teenagers. Age: 10+