Review Blog

May 14 2015

Bears don't read by Emma Chichester Clark

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HarperCollins, 2014. ISBN 9780007425181
Bear is not like the other grizzly bears in the woods. While they are perfectly happy doing bear things like fishing, Bear is bored.
"Oh, life is lovely," he thought. "Tra-la-la and all that! But is this it?" he wondered. "Is this all there is?"
Then one day, Bear discovers a book. And inside it were pictures of bears just like him, but there were also a lot of words and even Bear knew that they meant something, even the tiny ones. But what? So he decides to go into the town to find out, to find someone who will teach him to read. But instead of being greeted by a band of willing helpers, he is met by people fleeing and the police riot squad! Until he meets Clementine.
As well as being a charming story, this book celebrates Bear's determination and acknowledges that reading is not an easy task, something the target audience will be able to empathise with. Clementine's patience mirrors that of the early childhood teacher and the ending is delightful. Even though bears are depicted as fierce and scary, the illustrations are soft and gentle supporting the words to show a different side of this species. Emma Chichester Clark has a distinctive style that has seen her win many awards for her illustrations and this is another superb example.
Barbara Braxton

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