Tuesday, 15 May 2018

"Where's Home Daddy Bear?" by Nicola O'Byrne (Walker Books)

As someone who has moved house more times than I'd care to remember, I really appreciated the sentiment in "Where's Home Daddy Bear" by Nicola O'Byrne.

On face value, we initially thought this was going to be another one of those terribly saccharine-sweet books that conveys a message we've heard a zillion times before.

But of course, as a dad-and-daughter reviewing duo we couldn't resist the lure of this being a tale that would speak to us. And it did, in rather unexpected ways.

"Where's Home Daddy Bear?" focuses on little Evie, a bear who is about to move house for the first time. Daddy Bear packs up the truck with all their belongings, and they bid a fond farewell to their old house.

Thus begins a road trip where all Evie's feelings of uncertainty, a tiny fear of the unknown but the reassurances from Dad all fuse together as they begin their epic journey to the new home.

Evie has a million and one questions, and Daddy Bear patiently answers them all. Nicola's observation here is absolutely perfect (though of course she's drawing from experience, having moved around to different countries a lot herself - something I can definitely identify with).

Moving is hugely stressful for adults, but it's also the same for kids who may have to cope with new surroundings, a new school, making new friends - but above all it's the feeling of being uprooted from all you know as familiar that Nicola perfectly captures here.

Like most Dads, Daddy Bear is absolutely hopeless at reading maps and navigation!
The illustrations are warm, almost melancholy but with huge appeal for younger readers (in fact, as we said at the top of the review, they have a style that immediately put us off a bit as we tend to shy away from the cuddlesome cutesy stuff - but don't be fooled, they work perfectly once you get into the story itself and marvel at all the glorious little perfect details Nicola works into the story).

Happiness is curling up to sleep on a big fat daddy tummy, even if you're worried about moving house
As the story draws to a close it saves one last 'wham' for you. I won't spoil it but pay close attention at the end of the book - and be prepared for questions!!!

Utterly delightful stuff.

C's best bit: That last melancholy reveal, opening up a whole story prompt all of its own.

Daddy's favourite bit: Definitely ranks right up there with the best dad and daughter books, so how could we resist its charms. Don't be fooled by the cute art and cover, there's far more to it than that.

"Where's Home Daddy Bear?" by Nicola O'Byrne is out now, published by Walker Books (kindly supplied for review).