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This is the Bear
I do like this book, and have used it on many occasions in mainstream and special schools. It's a simple story which has also been enjoyed by my own three children.
~~Story and Illustrations~~
The best thing about this book is the simplicity of the story and the illustrations.
The story focuses on three main characters who do appear in the other books by the same author. These characters are the boy, the dog, and the bear, and whilst they are usually very good friends, the story starts with dog pushing bear in the in. Bless- we actually see bear been lifted over the edge of the bin by dog. From here on, an adventure starts, with bear being picked up and put in the rubbish truck.
Bear is put on the rubbish dump, and boy goes to find him…"This is the boy who took the bus and went to the dump to make a fuss". From this point on, the search for bear begins, and we see the grumpy old man looking for bear in the piles of rubbish. Bear is "…all cold and cross who did not think he was really lost". Children tend to like this bit- although bear is far from home, he has confidence that his friends will find him. On the illustration we see him smiling as he sees his friends, and the speech bubble says "Here I am". Meanwhile, while boy and the man are looking, dog is also doing his bit and is sniffing about- he can smell a bone, a tin, and "a bear as well".
What a happy ending; a man drives the bear the boy and the dog (with a bone). Into the bath goes bear and when he was lovely and clean and sitting with his friends, he "wound not say just where he had been"….he does look rather smug though!
We end the story with boy promising bear he won't tell, and dog saying in a speech bubble "I will". We like the dog- he is quite a cheeky thing! And in the middle of the night, boy wakes up and asks bear if he is ok. Imagine his surprise when bear asks when they can have their next day out!!
~~Text and Illustrations~~
Worthy of a mention, the text starts every double page spread with "This is…" The only reason every one isn't the same is that one of the spreads is a sentence continuation of the spread before. So, consequently, it's a great book for anyone wanting to teach children "This is…" They will soon figure out the pattern and anticipate the start of the sentence, which is great news for increasing their confidence with reading. The sentences are simple, and don't get bogged down into complex sentences. We find out who is the important character for that double page spread, and then this character will do something.
The illustrations are quite simple but detailed pencil drawings with what seems to be water colour to ensure it's not just black and white. The colours are very muted so nothing garish jumps out at you off the page. All of the pictures are clear and have a white background, so although they are detailed, we don't get too bogged down with masses of colour and unnecessary detail.
Throughout the book, there are speech bubbles coming out of the mouths of the characters which adds a different element to the story. It makes it a lot less formal and more amusing. Emergent readers enjoy reading the speech bubbles because although they may be unable to read the whole sentence, they can usually read the short bits of speech.
~~Other Bits of Information~~
First published in 1986 by Walker Books Ltd
ISBN: 0-7445-0969-6… my copy, which is soft back, although hard back copies are available.
~~Other Books by the author~~
This Is the bear and The Picnic Lunch (ISBN 0-7445-1304-9) This is the bear and the scary night (ISBN 0-7445-3147-0) This is the bear and the bad little girl. (ISBN 0-7445-4771-7) Crumbling Castle (ISBN 0-7445-6082-9) Mary Mary (ISBN 0-74452062-2)
Like many books which have been around for quite a while, I find it testimony to their enduring appeal that children still enjoy them 20years on. This is no exception…although it has "been around" for 20 years, it has lost none of its appeal. I remember reading it to first born, who is now 18, and I still read it in schools today.
It's main appeal is for young children- I would say not above Key Stage 1. The appeal is as I mentioned, in the very simple language, and it's great if wanting to teach things like capital letters and if you want to encourage children to have an idea of how to start a sentence in a simple way. As well as having simple sentence structure, the story line is incredibly easy to follow and even very young children tend to be able to sequence the journey of the bear.
The illustrations are simple with as much detail as is necessary. The characters appeal to the children because they tend to like it when animals and bears have adventures and can speak to each other and offer opinions.
For a simple to understand, enjoyable book with appealing characters, I would recommend this one…anyone who enjoys it can then meet up with bear the boy and the dog in the other books.
Thanks for reading.
I don't know why all the bits about audio books have been added at the bottom of the review. I keep checking and it is in the category of children's books!