Cub and Brown by Edwina Wyatt
In Cub and Brown, whimsical storytelling by Edwina Wyatt (The Secrets of Magnolia Moon) is perfectly complemented by detailed and classic black and white illustrations by Evie Barrow (Horatio Squeak). There are nostalgic nods here to Paddington and Winnie the Pooh, especially in Brown's tendency to take the spoken word very literally (with humorous Amelia Bedelia type results). Cub is a Scout who's come to the woods to camp with his group. Imagine his surprise when he comes across a bear, and an angry one at that. But as Cub quickly finds out, Brown is only grumpy because he is tangled in his own shoelaces and the two quickly become firm friends.
Separated into twelve short chapters (labelled as Tip #1: Be Prepared, etc), each is a standalone short story about Cub and Brown. In each one Cub uses his Scout prowess to help Brown in some way, from helping him understand the concept of time to stopping him from sucking his thumb. Cub is practical, while Brown is a little impetuous and the dialogue between the two is humorous. Some standout stories are when Brown tries to catch Cub a fish for his birthday and is told by a bird to use his head and his stalling when it is time for Cub to go home is just glorious: 'One last thing,' said Brown. 'Have you got a pocketmouse?'. His efforts to catch the culprit who has been making an almighty mess in his house is also very funny. Fans of gentle books will adore this with its pop of humour and fabulous characters. It would work wonderfully as a class read aloud with lots of areas for discussion, particularly in regards to language use and character development. The illustrations throughout and short chapters that can standalone also make it approachable for newly independent readers and those who may struggle to focus on a longer novel or chapters that follow on from each other.
Themes: Friendship, Emotions, Nature.