We have already shared the beautiful ‘Bear and the Piano’ – that this week has celebrated its book birthday in the US – by David Litchfield and the delightful ‘Hector and Hummingbird’ by Nicholas John Frith. But we just can not get enough of the ‘pawesome’ selection of ‘bearific’ picture books- each with its own very unique and charismatic bear. Together they make a truly marvellous and lovable sleuth of bears.
There’s a Bear on my Chair
Ross Collins (author/illustrator) Nosy Crow (publisher)
This is a delight! It creates the same magic, with its rhyming verse, as stories by Dr Seuss, and children will be reciting it with you in no time at all. The story tells of a little mouse that is enraged by a bear that has appeared in his chair. The mouse does everything he can think of to scare, lure and tempt the bear out of his chair but the bear remains completely oblivious. The illustrations are hysterical because as the little mouse gets crosser and crosser, bear becomes increasingly cool.
Due to the simplicity of the story, a wealth of opportunities for discussion and activities has been created. This is great chance to wonder and infer the characters’ actions: Why is bear in the chair? Why won’t bear leave? Why is mouse so upset? Children would love to design ways to help mouse get bear out of his chair. They could also design a chair for bear or a new chair for mouse to help restore the peace. Alternatively, they could write a letter to bear to ask him politely to move out of the chair. Children could also write their own story about what happens when bear discovers a mouse in his house!
Sophy Henn (author/illustrator) Puffin (publisher)
Sophy Henn is a genius when it comes to creating very loveable bears. ‘Where Bear?’ follows a little boy’s quest to find the perfect home for his bear cub, who has grown and grown and become more and more bearish until he is just too big and too bearish to live in the boy’s home. The boy has lots of ideas about where bears are found, but Bear does not want of live in any of these. Finally, the boy finds the perfect new home for Bear and Bear is very happy (especially as he can still call the boy on the telephone for a chit-chat).
What a fantastic way in to learning about habitats and comparing the species of bear from across the world. Children could write their own version of ‘Where Bear?’ using a different bear that they have learned about: where would their bear live? It would also be a fantastic start to a topic on the Arctic and polar bears. At the beginning of the story, the boy has Bear living in his home. What would the boy need to do to take care of Bear? Children could wonder and discover what would be needed to look after a bear cub and create instructions or a ‘How to…’ guide. To encourage further discussion, wondering and inference, writing letters from the boy or Bear, once Bear is in his new home, would help children to show their understanding of how the characters may be feeling and also provide opportunities to predict where the story could go next.
I Love You Already!
Jory John (author) Benji Davies (illustrator) Harper Collins Children’s Books (publisher)
‘I Love You Already,’ is laugh out loud funny. Duck is very, very enthusiastic about, well, everything! He wants to spend all of his time doing fun things with his friend Bear. There is only one problem, Bear just wants a bit of peace and quiet. As the story unfolds, we watch as Duck tries harder and harder to make Bear have fun. Duck desperately wants Bear to like him. There is only one problem, Bear already likes Duck.
The interaction between the two characters is absolutely hysterical as Duck tries harder and harder and Bear gets more and more annoyed. Finally, Bear manages to explain to Duck that he loves him already and Duck understands that he doesn’t have to try so hard… or at least Duck seemed to understand for a little while (a very little while)…
I think we all have a duck in our class (or in some cases, a whole raft of ducks): those children who try so hard to get their peers to like them, when actually, they are already liked and should just be themselves. This story allows children to empathise with Duck and Bear. They can discuss how the two characters are feeling during the story and children could easily advise the characters on what they should do. They could use Bear’s body language to help Duck understand how Bear must be feeling. The story is told almost entirely in speech so it is also a great opportunity for children of all ages to look closely at speech punctuation. With my Year 6 class, I would use the text to help children understand the layout for direct speech. We would then add our own reporting clauses, being as adventurous and imaginative as we can, altering the punctuation as necessary.
The Bear’s Song
Benjamin Chaud (author/illustrator) Chronicle Books (publisher)
This book is absolutely beautiful! With glorious illustrations that could be poured over for hours and a delightful story about love and adventure, The Bear’s Song is a real treasure. The story begins a Papa Bear is settling down for Hibernation. Little Bear, with honey thoughts in his head, can not settle so wanders off, following a frazzled-looking bee. When Papa wakes, he notices his Little Bear is gone and sets off to find him. Through the forest he goes – no Little Bear – into the city – still no Little Bear… Papa Bear follows a pair of fuzzy looking ears into the opera house but still Little Bear is nowhere to be seen. Papa Bear sings out, the Song of the Bear, as loud as he can (terrifying the audience) but one Little Bear hears the song and loves it; he has a surprise for Papa too. Little Bear discovers that an adventure is best with honey and Papa Bear’s company.
The Bear’s Song is beautifully written. Children could use the detailed illustrations to describe the settings from the story: every corner of the forest, the hustle and bustle of the city and the gleaming hall of the opera house. Not a word is wasted in this story. Older children could collect vocabulary and phrases from the text – there is certainly a wealth to choose from (specific verb choices, expanded noun phrases, fronted adverbials and figurative language)! This is a true example of quality, not quantity. I would love to give children in my class a chance to use the illustrations, their inferences and imagination to rewrite the story but this time from the point of view of the frazzled-looking bee.
How could you choose just one for these delightful bears? You can’t! You need them all. Why not have a teddy bear’s picnic with enough ‘beary’ books for all of your bear friends.