Why Are There So Many Books About Bears?

Why Are There So Many Books About Bears?
Kristina Stephenson
Hodder Children’s Books

The title to Kristina Stephenson’s new book poses a question that I suspect a fair few picture book reviewers will have asked themselves.

They however haven’t until now had recourse to ‘the most brilliant minds in the animal kingdom’ gathered together at Mollusc College, Oxford to discuss what is billed as the ‘Impossible Question’ concerning this preponderance of ursine book characters.

Let’s meet some of these brains forthwith.

First to offer a suggestion is William Snakespeare who proposes the answer lies in the number of words rhyming with bear and suggests a few examples.

His fellow debaters think he might have the answer. Not so Albert Swinestein. He quickly knocks that idea on the head stating that pig is equally easy to find rhymes for.

At this point there comes a knock on the door and a voice announces the arrival of the tea trolley. The debaters send the knocker packing drawing attention to the DO NOT DISTURB sign and Swinestein continues, proposing as the answer, the variety of sizes of bears; but this notion is immediately demolished by the PhDs (Porcupines, Hedgehogs and Dragons with Spines.)

The discussion continues, as do the interruptions by the tea trolley pusher causing increasing agitation to the debaters.

Just when tempers reach boiling point, Trevor the little mouse pipes up.

It might just be that this tiny, thus far silent creature, has solved the puzzle and that answering the door might yield the answer to the impossible question.

There’s something for everyone in this droll story. The very young will enjoy the frequent interruptions, the fold-out spread surprise and the superbly expressive illustrations of the characters, while older readers and adults will relish the tongue-in-cheek humour and the punning. Everyone I think, will love the throwaway finale tossed in by the tea-trolley pusher when he eventually gains admission.

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