Paul T. Gilbert

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FUNNY & FABULOUS are rising again! Paul T. Gilbert's first two collections of Bertram stories, with the original illustrations by Minnie Rousseff, are back again, after a long wait, in beautiful new editions by Pomegranate Communications, their PomegranateKids division. Bertram and His Funny Animals is available now at their website and at Amazon. The second book, Bertram and His Fabulous Animals can also be found at Pomegranate and at Amazon. You can read three Bertram stories on the about Bertram page. One, Bertram and the Hippopotamus, is from the Funny Animals book.

Statements from some life-long Bertram enthusiasts...

Everyone has a favorite children’s book or two and mine were the Bertram books. Their vivid characters and offbeat adventures slid effortlessly in and out of chaotic fantasy tempered with common sense and warm, hearthside humor. They called me back to them again and again. Bertram is every reader's Every-Kid.

The summer I was six, my older brother got to go to the Wizard of Oz movie, but I couldn’t go. I was too young. “Unfair!” I pouted. My brother calmed me down with: “Don’t worry, soon there will be a Bertram movie you can see!” Well, to this day there is no Bertram movie, but fortunately these lively stories are available again for a new generation.
Malcolm Whyte, Founder, Cartoon Art Museum

The greatest tribute one can pay a children's book is by remembering it as an adult. My 90-year-old mother still smiles delightedly when she recalls the adventures of Bertram and His Funny Animals. When I was a child she recited the stories to me. She'd read Paul T. Gilbert's family-inspired tales in Child Life magazine in the 1930s. I never saw the actual published stories myself when I was a child, but like my mother I adored Gilbert's comic whimsicality and I related to the sweet mischief of Bertram as he collected his exotic menagerie. Much of the charm of his stories is that Gilbert doesn't underscore the life lessons of Bertram, but they're there. My mother was a child of the Great Depression, when food and shelter were not available for everyone. Bertram may go against his mother's wishes, but he's always willing to give up something of his own for the sake of his animals. How wonderful to see these stories back in print with Minnie H. Rousseff's vivid vintage illustrations.
Polly Frost, writer/performer

Though I remember very few books from my childhood, I've never forgotten a hauntingly charming book called Bertram and the Ticklish Rhinoceros, by Paul T. Gilbert. Now, so many years later, receiving this new book, I immediately scrolled to the Ticklish Rhinoceros story, and found it every bit as delightful as it had seemed to me as a child.

Apparently I only had been exposed to the Rhinoceros story, which was released separately in 1948 as a picture book, because I know I would have remembered these further adventures had I known about them.  The stories are all comfortably similar to one another—all featuring Bertram wanting a particular animal, finding one, and eventually learning the difficulties of hosting the critter—but are different enough to retain their individual charm.  They have a whimsy that comes from the surreal unlikelihood of finding these wild beasts in the neighborhood (not to mention their ability to talk), combined with the ultimate patience and kindness of Bertram's parents. There are subtle dynamics at play, such as the initial reluctance of Bertram to let his parents know what beast he is keeping in the basement, to the usual ending of Bertram's father coming home from an Omaha business trip and creatively coaxing the animal to leave, restoring peace until the next episode.

There are also various moral issues in evidence, like self sacrifice, truthfulness, kindness to animals, and so forth, but they arise as legitimate story elements, and are applied with a light touch.  The illustrations, by Minnie H. Rousseff, are absolutely perfect, with the same whimsical feel as the writing. Bertram! Welcome back!
Peter Berryman, Lyricist, Lou and Peter Berryman