Bears and More Bears

Willa and the Bear
Philomena O’Neill

Made by her Grandma Bibbie, Willa’s rag doll Rosie is her constant companion until one winter’s day as Willa and her parents are on their way to Grandma’s birthday celebration, the doll falls from the sleigh and is lost in the dark snowy woods.

They stop and search but have no luck; little do they know that the doll has been found.

When they reach their destination, her gran gives Willa a little bear that she’s made. Later, Willa spies a real and very large bear through the cabin window …

but when they open the door all they find on the doorstep is Rosie. “That bear must be a friend of yours,” her gran tells Willa.

On the way back home Willa leaves her new toy bear in the snow with the words, “My friend will love you,” …

Despite its chilly setting this is a warm-hearted, albeit rather unlikely story of reciprocal giving and receiving; and the old-fashioned, cosy paintings have a Nordic feel.

Where Bear?
Sophy Henn
Puffin Books

The fabulous Sophy Henn’s first picture book is now out in board book format and is just right for small hands.

It’s a heart-warming tale that stars a bear and a boy who have shared the boy’s abode since the bear was a cub and the boy considerably smaller.

Bear has now grown too large for the house and the boy, eager to find his friend a suitable new residence, sets out with him.
But where bear?” he asks over and over, until finally they find a suitable location and the boy heads back to his home.

Both bear and boy are happy, particularly as their friendship can be continued, verbally at least.

With such superb characterisation it’s a delight through and through.

To Share or Not to Share

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Dave’s Cave
Frann Preston-Gannon
Nosy Crow
Here stand Dave. Dave have cave. Cave perfect. Animal friends like cave. Dave not happy. Want new cave. Dave go search. Three caves not good – too small, too big, too much noise …

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Two caves nice but Dave no share. Jon no share …

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Dave no happy.
Nice cave?

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It’s definitely a case of east, west, home’s best in this deliciously droll story told in clipped caveman speak and wonderful visuals that say so much more than the spare text Every turn of the page is guaranteed to bring laughs of delight if my audiences are anything to go by, not to mention a whole lot of staccato style speech by way of appreciation.
In addition to being a delight to read aloud, this book is a great one to offer those in the early stages of learning to read. Put this alongside those dull reading schemes – there’s just no competition …

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I Have an Orange Juicy Drink
Andrew Sanders
Fat Fox
A small boy has a delicious juicy drink – a yummy, orangey, tasty one – orange squash one suspects. But when an alien, an elephant and a dinosaur …

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attempt to seize said drink its owner decides to teach the would-be takers a lesson of the squishing kind. Now it may seem that this is somewhat extreme particularly as he uses a garden shed …

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an ocean liner and – wait for it – the moon as squashers or rather, squishers. It does mean however, that our young narrator still has hold of his drink when along comes his brother (plus constant companion of the feathered kind) eager for a share of the juice. And moreover, the fellow knows how to ask properly.


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So, three things happen: one – he gets a some of the drink, two – he gets a hug and three – a lesson is learned …

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Squishing, it appears, is rather less damaging than squashing.
Simplicity and sheer ridiculousness are what make this book such fun. With a limited colour palette and minimal text, Andrew Sanders delivers a deliciously neat lesson in manners that will appeal to young and not so young alike. I’m still pondering on how the lesson-giver managed not to choke himself in some of the positions he adopted to partake of that juicy drink.

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