Books: “The Bertie” series by Alexander McCall Smith

Thumbnail. The series follows seven-year-old Bertie and folks on his street in Edinberg, Scotland. Bertie’s very outspoken, opinionated mother keeps Bertie in yoga and other activities that cause him to long for a touch of freedom. He’s very bright but his world is somewhat limited, as is his understanding of how things operate at school and in other families. His neighbor’s story lines cover all manner of situations—triplets, dogs, narcissism, coffee shops, weddings, and work. One wonders if characters from other McCall Smith series might appear on the sidewalk near the local shop! It’s a contained but ever changing world.

What’s to love. The series introduces a whole set of loveable characters—and characters with pronounced obnoxious traits. All are believable. Every book, although written as a weekly news column, has an underlying theme and storyline that includes each set of featured characters. All the books have a new challenge. They all interface at times. And for all—although it may take some time—morality and goodness win. You enter a world of thoughts, philosophies, clothing choices, dog walks and life phases. You won’t agree with everyone’s perspective, but you’ll recognize some of the thought rambles. And Bertie, the little star of the show, captures your heart.

How to read the series. The books come in short chapters—as indicated these were originally written for a newspaper release but contain an underlying thread that carries through to the end of each series of scenes comprising the book. It’s a book that can be read one “column” or chapter at a time—or through to a change of character story. Any of this series can easily be read while reading other books—perhaps as a second (or third) book to transition to quieter parts of your day.

Summed up. Laugh-out-loud. A smile. Headshaking. A series to watch for each new release. A series that we hope doesn’t end soon—though how long can Bertie be seven?