The Unexpected Tale of Bastien Bon Livre by Clare Povey

I have a feeling this will become a favourite read for many children and adults! It has so many wonderful elements merging together to become a thrilling read. Villainous brothers, orphans with heart and stories to make your heart sing!

The boys in the Orphanage for Gentils Garçons are treated poorly, half starved and given little education but they are a united bunch. They look out for each other and share what measly treats they may happen upon. Monsieur Xavier is the new director but he has no heart and as we discover, has some alterior motives for being in the orphanage!

As I read, I marked down quotes or sentences that really speak volumes in the story and hit the spot for me as a reader and book lover.

“…Bastien knew it was physically impossible to grow out of stories.” Bastien is an amazing character, full of hope and determination! As morale in the orphanage hits a low, Bastien gathers the boys for story times and these have the power to allow them to hope and dream. His creative storytelling is the perfect tonic for rumbling tummies and sad hearts. Xavier has banned all books and storytelling so these must be whispered softly in secret!

“But he knew that you couldn’t choose an adventure, especially one so unexpected you could only answer its call.” Bastien, Theo and new friend Sami, are not fully prepared for the adventure they embark upon but they do it to save the boys in the orphanage and to learn the truth about Bastien’s parents. Parisian catacombs are the ultimate adventure setting and will get hearts racing as the reader follows the trio down, far under the city.

Olivier Odieux, is another monstrous character in this tale. He is failing to write his latest book and resorts to rather horrible methods to maintain his reputation. Bastien investigates the events surrounding his parents’ mysterious deaths and he discovers that there are further mysteries and secrets that may threaten his life as well.

“A story isn’t worth anything if it’s not told from the heart,” said Bastien. “The words mean nothing if you don’t feel every single one.” Those of us who read and adore children’s literature know the power of this one sentence and just how true it rings out when you pick up the next book. Bastien is full of love for books, stories and for sharing these with friends.

This has the feel of a classic to me with characters who are leaping off the page with their personalities and hope for their futures. The adventure is well plotted and fast paced, and there is a definite love of books and stories that is infectious to the reader. It is one I will cherish and re-read year after year.

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