A Bear Called...

“A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat in case of emergency”

Everyone's favourite bear, Paddington, was created by Michael Bond, who sadly died today aged 91. Stories about this unique bear - and The Tales of Olga da Polga- were a huge part of my childhood. Teachers read them to me, my parents read them to me and I read them myself. I watched them brought to life in those wonderful animated shorts. And I, in turn, read them to and watched them with my son. 

5. Michael Bond's Paddington statue.JPG

“I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright, because I’m a bear.”

In 2014, my family and I went to London for Christmas Eve and we found as many of the Paddington statues in the trail linked to the film as we could... and we were far from being alone. So many people were doing the same thing and it quickly became clear how important Paddington was to them!

In the book, 'The Life and Times of Paddington Bear' by Russell Ash, it says that the first ever review of a Paddington Bear book contained a statement...'it seems probable that Paddington will hold an honoured place in many families for years to come.' This is so true. Michael Bond's stories are full of humour and wise words which have enriched the lives of so many. 

'A Bear Called Paddington' was first published on the 13th October 1958- next year will be the 60th anniversary of its publication. I hope there will be many celebrations in honour of this lovely bear- and the wonderful man who gave him life.


A howlingly good fairy tale...

Little Red lives with his parents at an inn which is famous for its sweet ginger beer. One day, he sets off for Grandma's house, wearing his special red coat, taking her a basket of goodies. Forgetting all his parents' warnings, he strays from the path- and the wolf steals his little red coat and makes his way to Grandma's house. Having gobbled up the old lady, the wolf made himself ready for the next course- Little Red! Perhaps Little Red's brilliant plan will save the day!

A brilliant twist on the tale of 'Little Red Riding Hood', this is a book that offers plenty to discuss and plenty to laugh about! A great read for younger children, this could also be used very successfully with older ones too. 

However, in my opinion, it is the illustrations that add real magic to this tale! Full of details and clues, they beg to be lingered over and explored. The 18th century has been used as inspiration - a time of highwaymen, beauty spots and big wigs. When Little Red listens, enthralled, to tales about dashing highwaymen in his parents cosy pub, who can we see peering out from behind a newspaper in the corner? And are those knot holes or faces on the wall behind him? Grandma's house is host to some famous works of art, including a vase with Adam and Eve and the apple; the trees in the forest are full of strange faces - there is so much to look at and discuss!

Part of a series of re-tellings by this talented pair, 'Little Red' is great fun and sure to engage even the most reluctant reader. 

Little Red  retold by Lynn Roberts-Maloney, illustrated by David Roberts

Pavilion     ISBN: 978-1843653288

Other stories in this series are: 

Sleeping Beauty   ISBN: 978-1843653394

  Rapunzel            ISBN: 978-1843653189

 Cinderella            ISBN: 978-1843653196


LONGLIST REVIEW: Can I Join Your Club?

Duck wants to join a club. He tries Lion Club, but he can't roar. He tries Snake Club, but he can't hiss. He tries Elephant Club, but not only does he not have the memory, he can't trumpet. All he can do is quack!

So Duck sets up a club of his own which soon becomes 'OUR CLUB!'- a club where all are welcome!

This is such a wonderful story which celebrates diversity and the importance of being inclusive! As each animal denys Duck's application to join, our feathered hero looks more and more dejected, offering the perfect opportunity for discussing how people feel when we exclude them - for whatever reason. 

All that is needed to be a member of Duck's club is that you want to belong! This makes his club very popular, showing how much more fun things are when you include everyone... because you can never have too many friends.

Not only does the book carry very important messages, it is also great fun to read aloud! There are plenty of opportunities for using various voices for the different animals and making their noises as well as for building Duck's character. You could use the speech bubbles as an introduction to speech punctuation and have great fun choosing speech verbs to match the tone and style of the speech.

The illustrations are wonderful! Bright, colourful and full of character, there are so many details to spot and enjoy. The fun all the animals have together in the end clearly shows all the things that they would have missed out on had they stayed in their cliques!

A wonderful book which could be used with any age group!

Can I Join Your Club?  by John Kelly, ilustrated by Steph Laberis

Little Tiger    ISBN: 978-1848694354