Leslie Erwin, August 31, 2019
Joseph Pauciello, August 22, 2019
Risking the safety of a loving home and defying his parents’ sensible rules, a young field mouse named Bertie, with equal measure of curiosity and courage, one morning ventures out into the world. Since, unknown to him, Bertie is a coastal critter, a Chatham resident, his explorations quickly take him to the beach where he finds new friends and unanticipated challenges.
It’s Bertie’s good fortune to meet a kindly and wise seagull named Sebastian who, literally, takes the young mouse under his wing and becomes a mentor and a friend. Sebastian, speaking like a character from a Joseph Lincoln novel, introduces Bertie to the many inhabitants of the sea coast, the creatures who live on, above, or below the sand. They soon meet a sand flea, a crab, a clam, and a sandpiper.
Bertie also discovers, in a way that will amuse young readers, that sea shells do not make for good eating and that sea water does not provide a refreshing drink. Being a rather small mouse, learns –the hard way- not to wade too far into the ocean. He also learns to watch out for foxes and hawks and, in the climactic scene of the book, comes to understand the qualities of a true friend.
These are, naturally enough, real-life qualities, typical of a children’s book, but, in addition, the more dangerous side of reality emerges in the story. Nature, after all, is “red in tooth and claw,” so it’s not too surprising that Sebastian Seagull introduces Bertie to clams, etc., and then, after a pleasant enough conversation, contemplates eating them. Bertie is relieved to find that seagulls do not feast on young field mice, but eating-to-live is a constant theme in these adventures.
Of course, although they do not appear in the book, children are at the center of these adventures. Bertie is a kind of stand-in for the elementary-school age reader, so that all of Bertie’s experiences, both frightening and fun, become the reader’s own.
The book is richly and warmly illustrated, especially in the opening chapters, and then every few pages. The drawings are done by the author’s daughter, Scout, and colored by her father. For the youngest of readers (or listeners-the book was written to be read aloud), these delightfully rendered images will help bring the characters to life.
Bertie’s Adventure At the Beach is a family project in one other, important way. The book is an homage to the author’s mother who told him a series of bedtime Bertie stories when her child was a young boy. Decades later, as a kind of gift to her, a thank-you for stirring his lively imagination, the adult sonwas inspired to fashion this loving tribute.
The story ends on a similar note of gratitude (and perhaps another lesson for the book’s young readers). “’Dear Sebastian, my friend,’ said Bertie. “Thank you ever so much for my awesome adventure. I’ll remember this day, and you, forever. I’ve learned so much about that wonderful beach where you and your friends live. I’m now a wiser mouse; from now on I will listen to the advice of those who are more experienced than I.” It’s a hard-won piece of knowledge, well worth remembering, and a sentiment suitable for those of all ages that will enjoy this book.
Deborah, July 17, 2019
This wonderful book is a first-rate read for the young and not-so-young.
In the course of the story a young farmyard mouse named Bertie makes an unsanctioned visit to the seashore. There he is befriended by a sea gull named Sebastian. This wise and kindly old bird serves as Bertie’s guide and introduces him to a few of the inhabitants of the area. Crabs, shorebirds and clams are just some of the creatures Bertie encounters. In the course of his adventure he learns something of their lives and the way their ways. The young mouse experiences a few heart-stopping misadventures along the way, but, happily, survives to tell his tale to his friends back at the farm.
Hutchinson’s educational story is highly entertaining. His characters are presented with an affection and humor that readers of all ages will appreciate and enjoy. His tale derives from a bedtime story his mother frequently told when he was a child. It is not difficult to imagine that its roots are set in the same earth as Beatrice Potter’s and Thornton W. Burgess’ marvelous works.
A word about the book’s accompanying illustrations: drawn by his talented daughter, her drawings are beyond precious. They help to bring his endearing characters to life and add a welcome dimension to his timeless tale.
Local faces and places for kids to connect with in another recent book include those of a brave, hardy seagull named Sebastian, a curious mouse named Bertie and a wise horseshoe crab named Horace. Author John Hutchinson, who lives in Chatham, has created a slim hardcover storybook titled “Bertie’s Adventure at the Beach,” populated by these and other seashore creatures that Bertie encounters as he visits the seashore. The endearing illustrations, created by Hutchinson’s daughter, are delicate drawings that children will love, and the text is full of small teaching moments for kids who find themselves at the seaside, maybe for the first time.
Ruth Housman, April 20, 2017 (Hardcover)
As serendipity has it, we found ourselves in Chatham Center recently, and had the good luck to meet the Author with his charming character, Bertie, the mouse, books in hand. My granddaughter Jasmine (Miz Jazzy age five), always eager for a good read, was totally enchanted. Of course we purchased the book and also learned that Jazzy, is the name of John’s dog. Another sweet piece of serendipity. The book is charming, with adorable illustrations made by the author’s daughter. I read this through at one sitting, feeling Wow, what a great way to introduce a child to the seashore, as the book is replete with great morsels of detail. Bertie’s daring adventure to the beach is mentored by a knowledgeable, most sweet seagull. There is of course a moment of panic for Bertie, but I would spoil the story telling more. What’s more… another great adventure is on its way. Support your independent book sellers! This one’s a gem.
Seth Taylor, April 16, 2017
The boys love the book – it’s right up there with Beatrix Potter – great story-line and wonderful artwork!! This is one children’s book that will be handed down for years to come…simply wonderful! The use of old-Chatham vernacular for the voice of the seagull character was clever; it evoked great questions from the boys about language and speech patterns. What a hoot! The art work was equally precious… Our best to Scout!
Amazon Customer, December 23, 2016 (Hardcover)
A wonderfully written and illustrated coming of age story told through a young mouse’s first visit to the ocean. The author’s passion for the seashore and story telling abilities combine to create an entertaining, charming and timeless story for children of all ages. Great for young readers and/or reading to loved ones by parents and grandparents. Looking forward to reading about Bertie’s next adventure and reconnecting with the beaches of my youth.
John Hausner, October 19, 2016
Our grandson just got the book I bought from you. He loved it, John. That’s saying a lot because he ain’t a reader. He is a science and math fan.
Susan Oleary, October 8, 2016 (Kindle)
A wonderful whimsical tale of Bertie the mouse and his explorations at the beach! This book is wonderfully written and has amazing detail, and has a lot of interesting facts I never knew! I would recommend this book to all my family and Friends because it truly is a great find! This book fully deserves 5 stars and I recommend everyone to read it!! Without giving to much away, John Hutchinson has truly written an amazing tale with a lot of heart and an unexpected friendship!!
Karen, February 22, 2017 (Hardcover)
What fun I had reading this book to my grandchild. The illustrations of Bertie’s adventures captured her and drew her into the story as we read it together! Such a discovery to have found this jewel of a book for sale on Main Street in Chatham! I have gone on to buy several copies of this book on Amazon which I have passed on to grand babies of my friends! Looking forward to another book of Bertie’s adventures!
Amazon Customer, May 24, 2017 (Kindle)
Bertie is a brave little mouse
Bertie is indeed an adventurous mouse, and just the sort of book character companion young children will enjoy. He ignores his parents’ cautions to explore the great wide world of the beach, and learns all sorts of things about what life is like for those strange and new-to-him creatures who hang out at the edge of the tide. He encounters several dangers and makes new friends. The story is very engaging, for youngsters and adults reading to them. The illustrations reminded me of Beatrix Potters’ The Tale of Peter the Rabbit and companion books. My mother read them to me when I was of an age to be wandering Cape Cod beaches, picking up clam shells, Horseshoe Crabs, and Moon Snail collars, exploring the same intertidal world Bertie encounters on his adventure. I bought a copy for my granddaughter on her birthday. I think she is waiting for John Hutchinson’s next Bertie adventure to be published, just as I am.