Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cheer up your Teddy Bear, Emily Brown (Re-Review) by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton (Hodder Children's Books)


Cheer up your teddy bear, Emily Brown

Written by Cressida Cowell

Illustrated by Neal Layton

Published by Hodder Children's Books

Way back in 2012 we took a look at the third "Emily Brown" book and I think we'd been a bit burned out on borrowing both "Emily Brown and the Thing" and "That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown". We gave it 3 out of 5 stars and said that the idea was wearing a little thin. What meanies.

Now the Emily Brown books have been re-released by Hodder, it's the perfect opportunity to take a look at them all once again, to see if 7 year old Charlotte loves them as much as 4 year old Charlotte did.

In "Cheer up your teddy bear, Emily Brown" we meet the world's weepiest bear. Emily Brown and Stanley are pitching a tent in the Australian Outback one day, when they hear a faint 'plip plop' noise coming from the toybox. It's the sound of teddy tears, and a lonely little teddy bear who plaintively sings a little song of woe.

Emily Brown and Stanley decide to take the little teddy on their adventure, but not even the prospect of bouncing with kangaroos or making friends with emus can cheer the poor thing up.

They fare no better in Yellowstone Park despite the presence of brown bears, grizzly bears and cuddly little baby bears. Teddy just can't be consoled! What's worse is that the teddy's morose mood is rubbing off on the usually effervescent Emily Brown and Stanley! NOOOOOOO!

Is there nothing that can cheer the poor little soul up?

We got into a deep discussion about this book. We love the first two, we haven't yet 'met' "Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency" (which has also been re-released, hooray!) but it's that teddy, that poor little sad little teddy bear who we really can't seem to 'gel' with. Emily Brown and Stanley really try their best to befriend the little bear but she's inconsolable until other teddies turn up.

One of the delights of re-reviewing this was getting Charlotte to read it to me (whereas last time we read it, it was the other way around). She's slowly learning how to read stories with gusto and great characterisation, so it was actually a genuine delight to hear her giving the sad little teddy a squeaky heartbroken voice as she 'sang' the little teddy song with each bit of repetition.

As ever, tight writing and a nice little heartfelt message helps bring the story up a few notches thanks to Cressida Cowell's enviable writing expertise, and we still can't get enough of Neal Layton's art style, scribbly and chaotic but infinitely attractive and perfectly fitting for the Emily Brown tales. Charlotte rather loved the fact that she thought the Gold Bear (From "That Rabbit belongs to Emily Brown") made a cameo appearance at the end of the tale, and I'm sure we spotted Pooh Bear too!

Charlotte's best bit: The perfect teddy bear's picnic!

Daddy's Favourite bit: The Emily Brown books are deservedly described as modern classics. This isn't our fave but it's still an entertaining read, and your tinies will love the excuse to dig out their teddies and recreate the closing scenes themselves!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Hodder Children's Books)

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That rabbit belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

Emily Brown and the Thing by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton

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