Every Friday morning I read stories and sing songs to toddlers at the local bookstore Cover to Cover. I’ve had two weeks off after dental surgery, so I hope I’ll still have an audience. This time it will be all about bears and here’s what I’ll be reading.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. It’s very easy to get swallowed up in this story, it has great repetition and the Helen Oxenbury illustrations are very charming. We like to see the bear at the end, because he looks sort of sad. Maybe he wanted someone to play with.
A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker and Kady MacDonald Denton. Published only last year, this book is already heading for classic status. It’s the story of a cumudgeonly bear who does not want visitors and a mouse who does not take no for an answer. The mouse is cheeky and the bear is a terrible drama queen, which makes it a joy to read the story aloud, especially when he cries “I am undone” with his paw on his forehead. Of course everything works out well in the end, the mouse gets his cheese and tea and the bear gets someone to tell jokes to.
Courdoroy by Don Freeman. This little book is already an American classic. Written in 1963, it’s probable that the African American heroine of the story was at least unusual, if not groundbreaking. The story is about a bear in a department store who goes on a night time mission to find the lost button from his overalls. A very simple story, with a hint of danger and a very happy ending.
Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough. Usually Alborough books are a little short on words (Hug and No, being good examples of that), but this one has some fun rhyme schemes, pushed to the limit. The story concerns Eddie and his lost Teddy, Freddie, as well as a real bear and his lost teddy. The illustrations give a great emotional depth to the characters whilst the text bounces along like a toddler.
Wibbly Pig’s Silly Big Bear by Mick Inkpen. “Wibbly Pig has a bear so BIG he can hardly fit on the page”. So begins a typical Inkpen story, subverting preconceptions about literary convention and pushing the boundaries of imaginative comprehension. Oh and it’s good. Wibbly’s bear is pretty useless at most toddler activities, but he can bounce the moon to you and crash his paws like thunderclaps. This book has the saddest ending of any picture book I’ve yet encountered, but it’s true, when someone special leaves, we miss them “more than anyone”.
I will be singing, The Goldilocks and the Three Bears song, The Bear Went Over the Mountian and Teddy Bears Picnic. And instead of a poem we’ll play Round and Round the Garden, Like a Teddy Bear.