Page 45 Review by Stephen
A perfectly formed, poignant little book, this is set amongst snowflakes, staring out at the stars.
It's very kind and very quiet, told in black, white and eggshell blues.
Two alternating perspectives are presented to us: Lydia's and young Burt's.
Lydia is a mouse of a certain age, homely in a long, pleated skirt, cardigan and glasses. She has many family portraits on her walls. Burt is a young, blue bird.
"Burt and I live at the edge of town, in the small apartment building at the bottom of Mount Maple," we are told.
Burt then shares his private thoughts in two pages of comics:
"They call it Mount Maple, but it's not really a mountain. I looked it up, and it's only a hill.
"And this isn't really my home.
"Lydia isn't my mother.
"My name isn't even Burt."
Well, clearly Lydia isn't Burt's biological mother, for she is a mouse, and he is a bird.
"No one must know the secret of my true identity.
"I am an intergalactic trans-dimensional time traveller.
"I am trapped here on Earth...
"... A long way from home."
Lydia walks in to their living room, bearing comforting milk and cookies, and sees Burt perched on a chair, staring silently out of the window at the infinite evening sky.
"I hope he's happy here."
This sets the timing and tone perfectly for what is to come, Lydia watching over her charge - as he sets about repurposing some household appliances then holding the resultant jumble ever higher in the sky - if not with a complete understanding, then at least loving patience, wondering what's going on in his head and only wishing he'd wear a hat.
"I can't even begin to imagine what he's been through," she thinks.
"I know it will take some time before he settles in."
Everything here is so meticulously balanced and judiciously chosen - the alternate exchanges, the anthropomorphic tradition, the tenderness of expressions, Burt's specific behaviour and the absence of any direct communication between the two until the very end - not only for maintaining the ambiguity of Burt's true origins, but also the truth that, in all the most important ways, it really doesn't matter.
John Martz has kindly signed and sketched in all our copies.