Friday 8 August 2014

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week ending 8th August 2014 - "Where Bear?" By Sophy Henn (Picture Puffin)

Where Bear?

Written and Illustrated by
Sophy Henn

Published by Picture Puffin

Brighton Alumni (yay!) Sophy Henn's debut picture book for Puffin book plopped through our letterbox the other day and we've been cuddling it ever since.  Yesterday was publication day for "Where Bear?" but we just had to make it book of the week, it really is something rather special.

A boy and a bear - so many books take this simple premise and run with it, so coming up with an original and engaging story around this set-up is pretty tough but Sophy has managed it with aplomb.

We meet both boy and bear when they're tiny - but as the years pass, boy grows but bear also grows - rapidly getting far too big to stay at home with the boy. So what can they do? Find somewhere new to live? But where bear? Where!

The boy struggles at first. Bear doesn't want to live at the zoo, or in a dank cave. But after frantic searching and a lovely blue lolly or two, boy and bear hit on the perfect idea.

We won't spoil the book by telling you where Boy and Bear end up but Sophy's subtle message tucked neatly in between furry bear and boy is rather touching and lovely, and important too - We took it as a missive on animals in captivity, perhaps even a look at how our relationship with animals is often a tricky thing to balance (I could go into a huge ramble about zoos and safari parks, or even farm parks and how they jar a bit but let's concentrate on this fab book instead).

Sophy's art is deliciously gorgeous. Sophy's writing is taught, informed, engaging and the use of repetition makes this a read-aloud joy (particularly if, like me, you like to adopt a nice gruff voice when Bear shouts "Noooooo!" at each suggestion the boy comes up with of a new place to dwell).

Charlotte's best bit: Charlotte pointed out that blue lollies that the bear and boy eat (and the bear spills down his lovely white fur!) are bubblegum flavour. So now you know!

Daddy's Favourite bit: A hugely impressive debut for Puffin from Sophy. Keep an eye on her, she's going to be stratospherically huge in children's picture books, mark my words!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Picture Puffin)