Monday, October 7, 2013

#ReadItMD13 Theme Week - "The Bear Necessities" - So many bear-based books, which ones do we love best?

"The Bear Under the Stairs" by Helen Cooper. A regular favourite in our roundups. 

This week on ReadItDaddy we're wondering just why bears feature in so many of our favourite books. Even though many children may have a stack of cuddly toys, are teddy bears still as popular as ever? There is something about a good bear yarn that goes down a treat with children of all ages.

So let's start off with the book in our header image. A book that, when first reviewed, we had mixed feelings about - yet now it's demanded on a daily basis.

Helen Cooper's "The Bear under the Stairs" (which we've reviewed twice - here and here). With two years between the reviews, Charlotte's love of the book grew and it went from something that scared her and gave her nightmares - to something that was thrilling, subversive and ended on a high note. It's interesting to revisit books in this way and Helen Cooper's bear - initially a bit of a dark and scary beast - ends up being the conduit for exploring and assuaging children's fears.

The way this story is often told is to build up a bit of tension - is the bear all in William's head, or as suggested by the illustrations - a bit of both. He's really there, he crops up hidden in the shadows, hiding just out of sight in some pictures, and sometimes gadding about by night while William sleeps. It's a fascinating book that works on so many levels but it can still feel a little dark and disturbing as a bedtime read for younger kids (but as you'll find out very soon, it works brilliantly when read aloud to a whole crowd of them!)

Moving on, how about a good old fashioned retro bear that we couldn't possibly miss out in our bear round-up...

"Paddington" by Michael Bond. Marmalade sarnies at the ready?
"Paddington" by Michael Bond was a book I received as part of our schools "Book Newsletter" (where we could order books once a month from a brilliant selection). I'd been reading a ton of fantasy books but this tale of a bear who makes his way all the way from Peru to England via Paddington Station is a brilliant fish-out-of-water tale with an enduring and loveable character at its heart. Even now, despite so many new treatments and probably a lot of muddying of the waters between TV adaptations and the original novels, it's still a cracking read for youngsters (and I think all kids should have a Paddington Bear at home with a real pair of wellies on!) Timeless and brilliant - read the novel before the new big budget movie probably ruins it for you forever!

More bears you cry! Well why not...

"Bear on a bike" by Stella Blackstone and Debbie Harter. Happy as can be!
One for younger readers but a book that we still love even now, just because it's such a brilliant sing-song read-aloud favourite. Stella Blackstone and Debbie Harter's fantastic "Bear" series, including "Bear on a Bike" have been regularly finding their way into our library pile. Charlotte doesn't even mind that I tend to read the book in a variety of silly voices (Bear has a mellow and rather posh accent while his little friend is a squeaky Brummie!). Wonderful rhymes that flow off the tongue, and brilliant illustrations as fabulous and colourful as you can imagine. A bear book for beginners and an essential purchase from a publisher (Barefoot Books) who really cares about what they do. 

Have we got room for one more? How about possibly THE definitive bear book - and another book that we love to read aloud to a crowd (with some fabulous actions to join in with)...

"We're going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. If this isn't in your child's book collection, WHYYYYYYY NOT?
We describe many books as "essential purchases" but this really does belong in every child's collection. In fact whenever the subject of this book comes up, we often see parents' eyes roll as they've probably had to read it so many times to their little ones. 

"We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury is an absolute classic, and one that can be read again and again. With lots of great actions to perform if you love reading aloud, and lots of excitement and frenetic craziness at the end, it's a book that children instantly love and don't care how many times they hear it or read it. 

Diving through our archives here's a selection of other bear-faced books we've loved: 


childledchaos said...

You appear to be lacking on the Clara Vulliamy front! Muffin and the Bear with Sticky Paws are both ace (Muffin for younger children). I planned a bear theme over the summer, found too many bear books and got overwhelmed! Oh, Jane Hissey too. And Jez Alborough - if you haven't read "Where's My Teddy?" you really should. Adam Stower's Silly Doggy; Martin Waddell's newest Bears, Bears, Bears! So many bear books, such a great theme! :-)

ReadItDaddy said...

We are SO behind with Clara's brilliant books, so lots of catching up to do. I did rather like Old Bear and I did like Baggy Brown before it went all "royal baby" so they're a couple of corkers. Sounds like Martin Waddell's latest would hit the right note, looks fab! Cheers Anne-Marie!