Reviews /

Something About A Bear

Authored by Jackie Morris
Illustrated by Jackie Morris
Published by Francis Lincoln

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Once again, Jackie Morris’ wonderful illustrations create a book to enjoyed time and again. Each generous double page spread tells readers in delicate poetic language about eight different bears from all over the world, with evocative close-ups of the bears and details of their habits and habitats. Set against a background of warm terracotta south Asian buildings, the shaggy Sloth Bear carries her young, seeking termites and beehives and guarding them from tigers, wild dogs and leopards. Starkly white against the varied blues of the sea, the Polar Bear is,

Hunting seals on silent paws,

Hushed as gentle falling snow.

All the bears are sumptuously illustrated, tempting the reader not only to enjoy the words and images but to run hands over the pages to experience their beauty and strength. Towards the end of the book, a spread shows all the bears pointing their noses towards the page turn with the words, ‘Of all the bears in the wild wide world, the very best bear of all is…’ and the page turns to a picture of a bear cuddling a teddy and the simple: ‘YOUR bear’.  The bears in the book may be wild, but you can have your own reassuringly friendly teddy bear.

The book ends with factual information about each type of bear, once again strikingly illustrated. This is a truly beautiful book to be shared slowly with young readers from 5 upwards, starting with the end papers with their mottled backgrounds in which the imagination can see shadows of bears and traces of their claws as well as paw prints crossing the page and real bears and, on the final end papers, with huge scarred paws and eyes looking straight out, but (is it my imagination?) with compassionate eyes wanting to communicate directly with the reader.