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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: bears, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 103
1. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

It's bedtime but young Cole still wants a story, a true story before going to sleep.  And so Cole's mother begins to tell him a story about Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian from Winnipeg who lived long before Cole was born.  When war begins far from Canada, Harry's veterinary services are needed to care for the army's war horses and so he joins the army.

When Harry's troop train makes a stop in White River, Canada, he sees a man with a baby bear and next thing he knows, Harry has bought the bear for $20.00 and names it Winnipeg - nickname Winnie.  Winnie is quite a hit among all the soldiers and proves herself to be a gentle, but rambunctious bear cub.  Eventually, Winnie travels with Harry all the way to England, where Harry and his fellow soldiers will train for war.

When Harry gets his orders and is about to be sent to the front lines in France, he realizes that a battlefield would be too dangerous for Winnie and decides to leave him at the London Zoo for the duration of the war.  It is, indeed, a sad parting between man and bear.

However, Winnie adjusts to life in the zoo and ever the gentle bear, he is popular with the kids who visit, and in particular, one boy named Christopher Robin Milne, who frequently comes to see Winnie with his father.  Christopher even names his teddy bear after Winnie, calling it Winnie- the-Pooh, and out of his love for the real bear comes the books by his dad about Winnie-the-Pooh's adventures with a young boy named Christopher Robin.

As for young Cole, well, he was named after his great-great grandfather - Harry Colebourn.

Finding Winnie is a nice all-in-the-family true story since Linsay Mattick is actually the great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn.   Son Cole's request for a bedtime story, one he has clearly asked for and heard many times before, cleverly frames the real story about how the tales about Winnie-the-Pooh evolved and it is nicely connected to the present for young readers by Cole's relationship to Harry.  Mattick has even included a family tree so kids can trace the family's relationship.

In addition, Mattick has included photos and artifacts from the time that Harry and Winnie spent together, as well as a photo of herself and Cole at the back of the book.

Sophie Blackall's beautifully rendered watercolor and ink illustrations are bright, detailed and gently soothing, makinf for an excellent merger of story and picture that is sure to please even the youngest Winnie-the-Pooh fan.  She really has captured the affection between Harry and Winnie and Blackall's illustrations will elicit more than a few "ahhhs" for readers.  In fact, she has even made the illustration of the soldiers marching in the rain look not as dreadful as it probably was.

And I really liked that the story is always focused on Winnie and never strays into Harry's time on the western front, so there are no combat illustrations, even though this is technically a WWI story.

Finding Winnie is a lovely addition to any library, a terrific read-aloud (at bedtime, perhaps?), and the perfect introduction to the Winnie-the-Pooh stories for young readers.

And, yes, I know that Finding Winnie is the second book to come out this year about the true story of Winnie-the-Pooh.  Both are equally delightful, each one tells the story equally well, and the illustrations in each are every bit as good as the other.  What to do?  Read them both.  That what I did and even though they tell the same story, they are wonderfully different and I enjoyed both for different reasons.

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

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2. Animal Families

This month's themed art is Family.  I thought I'd share some animal moms and their families.

Momma Bear soothes Baby Bear.
written and illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

Mother elephant sleeps with her baby.
written by Linda Stanek, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

A mother garter protects her young.
written by Jerry Pallotta and Van Wallach
illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

A zebra shark and her children.
written by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

And finally, as bats prepare to hibernate…
written by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

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3. Harts Pass No. 268

It's that time of year again -- hopefully-- and the turn of seasons is finally under way. From all of us fine and furry critters here at Harts Pass comics, bring on the snow (and nighty night to the Ursus americanus and others of their ilk)!

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4. Bears IN SPACE!


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5. Mr. Bear is finally finished...

And it's time for Mr. Bear to finally say 'Bear is finished!'

I like these step by step progressions so if you scroll through the arrows on the images you can see how each image changes.

And of course with photoshop there are many, many changes to be accomplished.

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6. #633 – I Love You, Too! By Michael Foreman


I Love You, Too!

By Michael Foreman
Andersen Press U. S. A.            3/01/2014
Age 4 to 8          32 pages

“Little Bear doesn’t want to go to sleep, so he tries everything he can think of to distract his father, and in the end it’s an exhausted dad who falls asleep!”


“Dad finished the bedtime story and gently closed the book.”

The Story

Dad Bear tucks his son into bed, reads him a story, and tells his son he loves him. Little Bear has no intentions of going to sleep and so he starts up a back-and-forth he and his dad have done many times: “I love you, I love you more.” It starts out simply and Dad just wants his son to go to sleep.

“I love you three,” said Little Bear, laughing.

“I love you four. Now go to sleep.” said Dad.

“I love you five,” said little Bear.

“I love you even more than that. Now it’s time to sleep,” said Dad.

No, Dad, it is not quite time for bed. Little Bear continues, bringing in his toys, which he loves his dad more than. Dad replies with a simple I love you more, but it will not suffice his son. The boy loves his father more than leaves and birds, all the snowflakes of winter, flowers of summer, colors of the rainbow, and the stars in the sky. To each of his son’s “I love you more than,” Dad replies, “I love you more,” or some variation of this reply. Finally, Dad says,

“You’re only saying that because you don’t want me to go down stairs.”

“No, Dad. It’s because I love you.”

“I love you, too,” said Dad.

“I love you three . . . “


I Love You, Too is a sweet story between a father and son. Picture books need a few more stories involving Dad, who does not get the representation Mom gets in picture books. Poor Dad is usually off to work and, if he is in the book, it is breakfast time and Dad is leaving for work. “Bye kids,” said Dad.

ama new

Little Bear uses his imagination to tell his dad all the ways in which he loves him more than. When Little Bear tells dad he loves him more than all his toys, which are in a corner overflowing out of a toy box, the toys look dejected. The stuffed tiger looks downcast, the donkey appears to have shed a tear, and the others—cat, elephant, panda bear, and bunny,—all look unhappy. Little Bear takes dad up into a tree, into the snow, (where there is a snowbear), into a field of flowers, into the ocean, and onto a sandy beach (where dad is buried under the sand sans his head). In every adventure, Dad smiles and replies that he loves his son and it is time for sleep. Stubborn, but happy, Little Bear ignores his father’s admonitions.

The illustrations, all beautifully done in rich watercolors, welcome the two bears, alone for Little Bear’s love-you-more-than-these adventures. Little Bear’s imagination has these two anthropomorphic brown bears perfectly outfitted in each place Little Bear takes them. As Little Bear finds new ways to love his father more than, the two transport into Little Bear’s imagination to that place, be it a field of flowers,  a rainy day with puddles to play in, or a starry sky to float through, Dad is as happy as Little Bear, wherever Little Bear’s imagination has taken them. I love how Foreman puts the circle of love in motion once more when Dad said, “I love you, too” and Little Bear takes off with his I love you three, but we never find out what those three things he loves dad more than. Dad has fallen asleep on Little Bear’s bed. Little Bear has gotten his wish. Dad is not going back downstairs.  Little Bear picks up the picture book Dad had read him: I Love You, Too!

I Love You, Too_spr

I Love You, Too makes a wonderful bedtime story, though you may find yourself trapped in the “I love you more” merry-go-round, not this is a bad place to be stuck. The story and the illustrations will evoke laughter, smiles, and many “I love you’s” which one can never hear enough. Children will love this story and will soon be using their own imaginations when deciding how much they love a parent more than. I Love You, Too will send many children off to dream land happy and content. If Da Bear is any indication, parents will quickly dose off to their own happy dreamland, maybe even before the last “I love you more than . . . “is said.

I LOVE YOU, TOO! Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Michael Foreman. Reproduced by permission of the US distributer, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.  

.               First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Andersen Press, Ltd.


Purchase a copy of I Love You, Too! at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryLerner PublishingAndersen Pressat your favorite bookstore.


Learn more about I Love You, Too! HERE.

Meet the author / illustrator, Michael Foreman, at his wiki page:    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Foreman_%28author_/_illustrator%29

Find more great books at the Lerner Publishing Group website:    https://www.lernerbooks.com/

Find even more books at the Andersen Press U. S. A. website:  http://www.andersenpress.co.uk/

 Andersen Press U. S. A. is an imprint of Andersen Press Ltd.


Also by Michael Foreman, released in 2014



Cat & Dog

Cat & Dog

Classic Christmas Tales

Classic Christmas Tales

Oh! If Only...

Oh! If Only…



The Littlest Dinosaur

The Littlest Dinosaur

Fortunately, Unfortunately

Fortunately, Unfortunately

War Game: Village Green to No-Man's-Land (ages 8 to 10)

War Game: Village Green to No-Man’s-Land
(ages 8 to 10)






i love you too



copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Andersen Press Ltd, Andersen Press U. S. A., bears, bedtime story, children's book reviews, fathers and sons, I Love You Too!, Lerner Publishing Group, Michael Foreman, picture books

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7. Harts Pass No. 213

Worlds collide! Ongoing wildfire stories and wolverine research/recovery/protection efforts find common ground in this week's strip. Heartbreaking -- but uplifting in its thus far positive progress -- is the rescue effort involving Cinder, a 35lb female black bear who was badly burned in the Carleton Complex fire. She looks pretty good in the photo below, and clearly shows a little spunk in the strip.

In other news, the Fed has reversed its earlier track and decided that the wolverines and their demonstrable (but supposedly hypothetical) reliance on late season snowpack for denning and rearing of kits do not warrant endangered species protection. I'm with Cinder on this one. Uncertainty my butt!

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8. Three Bears in a Boat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Three Bears in a Boat Written and illustrated By: David Soman Published By: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014, Fiction Themes/Topics: boating, bears, adventure Suitable for ages: 3-7   Opening: Once there were three bears, Dash, Charlie and Theo, who lived by the … Continue reading

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9. Picture book roundup - Library books

September, National Library Card Sign-Up Month, is almost over, but if you're still looking for a good book to share, here are two new ones:

  • Kohara, Kazuno. 2014. The Midnight Library. New York: Roaring Brook. 
By the time this month is over, I will have visited thirteen kindergarten and four preschool classrooms to promote Library Card Sign-Up Month.

It doesn't matter what other books I have in my bag.  When kids see The Midnight Library, it's the one they want to hear!  Apart from Kazuno Kohara's eye-catching linocut illustrations in three colors, here's why I like it:
  • It features a library that's open all night long.  I wouldn't want to work there, but it makes for a really good story!
  • It highlights the fact that libraries are adaptable.  The squirrel band needs to practice some new songs for an upcoming concert?  No problem!  The library has an activity room they can use.
  • It features one of a librarian's favorite activities - reading stories.  Wolf is crying because her book is sad?  No worries! The librarian reads it with her.  It has a happy ending!
  • It's absolutely perfect for Library Card Sign-Up Month!  Tortoise can't finish that 500-page book before the library closes at sunrise? A library card is what he needs!

See this and more interior artwork at the publisher's website.

  • Becker, Bonny. 2014. A Library Book for Bear. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.

I've loved the Bear and Mouse series ever since it came out, and while this one is not my favorite (I still love A Visitor for Bear best!), it's a good addition to your collection of library-themed books.  You really can't go wrong with Bear and Mouse.

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10. Its Fall-time for Oliver.

I've stretched out the summer to the last warm beach day but alas...its Fall. I do actually enjoy the season and had a chance to indulge my love for this time of year in New England a few years ago while illustrating Oliver Finds his Way by Phyllis Root. The board book is still available at your favorite independent bookstore. Visit my site, http://www.christopherdenise.com, for quick links to purchase past titles.

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11. Goldielocks and the Three Bears

In January I had the opportunity to work on a rather unusual project. This new editions of Goldielocks and the Tree Bears, published by Editions Fleurus, has a simple but lovely paper engineering. Each page is made by two rotating disks so the scene inside changes.
I'm very pleased with the print quality and how well the book was put together. One of my favourite projects this year!

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12. Brother Hugo and the Bear: Blending fact, fiction and illuminated manuscripts

I have to admit that there have been one or two occasions in my lifetime when I’ve lost a library book.

I’ve never had a reasonable excuse (the overflowing levels of books in my home may be what has swallowed them up, but I cannot use this an acceptable defence). I’ve certainly never been able to claim that any loss was on account of a wild bear hungry for words.

brotherhugoBut a twelfth century Brother Hugo could and did. Or at least he does in the delightful and engaging Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe, illustrated by S. D. Schindler .

To make good the loss of a missing manuscript, Brother Hugo is ordered by his Abbot to prepare a fresh copy. Having borrowed the neighbouring monastery’s version of the lost text, we follow Hugo as he carefully recreates the book that has disappeared.

All goes well until his journey to return the loaned copy, when he is stalked by a hungry bear…

A historical note at the end of the book quotes from an extant letter written by Peter the Venerable (c. 1092 – 1156, a real-life abbot who published the first Latin edition of the Koran amongst other things):

And send to us, if it pleases you, the great volume of letters by the holy father Augustine, which contains his letters to Saint Jerome, and Saint Jerome’s to him. For it happens that the greater part of our volume was eaten by a bear.

Beebe has used this historical fact to build a captivating and funny story. We learn a lot about how books were at one time made including where parchment comes from and how some inks were made. But this is no dry non-fiction text.

Historical figures and settings come to life in ways which make them real and relevant; “The dog ate my homework” is an excuse I’ve yet to hear in real life – a bit like seeing someone slip on an actual banana skin – but it’s an excuse we are all familiar with, and which resonates clearly with poor Hugo and his encounter with the bear. Beebe’s text is perfectly peppered with slightly archaic language, giving a lovely flavour seasoned just right for using this book with slightly older children.


Schindler’s illustration are a delight, drawing heavily on many styles and motifs used in mediaeval manuscripts. Illuminated letters start each paragraph and the finely executed, detailed ink and water colour illustrations contain much humour. As befits a book about hand-created manuscripts, Schindler’s illustrations are completely executed by hand (you can learn more on Schindler’s blog), without computer manipulation, a relatively rare thing these days in picture books.

Text and illustration are both splendid but what truly completes this book is the inclusion not only of a historical note and glossary but also a commentary from both author and illustrator on the inspiration and process of their work. This adds real depth to an already interesting and beautiful book.

Brother Hugo and the Bear has appeared on several “best of 2014″ book lists in the US, including 2014 American Booksellers Association Best Books for Children Catalog, Kirkus Best of 2014 and School Library Journal Best Books of 2014 and it is certainly worth ordering a copy of this American import (unfortunately you’re unlikely to find this in a UK library). It would make an ideal book to use as the basis of some activities for World Book Day.

Inspired by Brother Hugo we wanted to make our own illuminated manuscripts. Using some colouring-in pages printed from the web as our inspiration we drew outlines for illuminated letters using pencils before going over them with ink.



The inked letters were then filled in with watercolour and a little bit of gold guache before being leather bound.


Completely at their own instigation the girls used a Latin dictionary to find words they liked to write in their manuscripts.


Whilst making our manuscripts we listened to various 12th century music such as this, this and this.

Other activities which would work well alongside reading Brother Hugo and the Bear include:

  • Watching this hilarious video about the changes from scrolls to codices in the history of the book:
  • Making your own ink. There are lots of different recipes from this using egg yolk, lamp black and honey to this one recycling old felt tips which seem to have run out.
  • Browsing online images from illuminated manuscripts. Both the British Library and the National Library of the Netherlands have fabulous, searchable illuminated manuscript databases
  • Watching the super, award winning, family-friendly feature length animation The Secret of Kells, which as you might guess from its title is about creating an illuminated manuscript.
  • This year sees the 10th anniversary of another of my favourite books about books: Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing a few new book-themed book discoveries – but do let me know your favourite picture books which celebrate books and the joy of reading.

    3 Comments on Brother Hugo and the Bear: Blending fact, fiction and illuminated manuscripts, last added: 2/2/2015
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    13. I know a Bear – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    Title: I Know a Bear Written and illustrated by: Mariana Ruiz Johnson Published by: Schwarz & Wade Books, 2014 (originally published in France as J’ai un Ours by Editions Gallimard Jeunesse, Paris, 2011) Themes/Topics: zoo animals, bears, listening Suitable for ages: 3-7 Opening: I know a bear … Continue reading

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    14. Harts Pass No. 241

    Local meetings about a grizzly bear reintroduction, and the wolverines are not afraid -- of the bears!

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    15. Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker, illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss

    At the start of World War I, a young lieutenant named Harry Colebourn, who also happened to be a veterinarian, is on his way with his regiment to a military training camp in Quebec, when he sees a baby bear on a station platform.  He discovers that the baby bear is for sale, for only $20.00, and Harry decides he has to have it.

    The little cub, whose mother had been inadvertently shot, is named after the regiment's hometown of Winnipeg, but immediately shortened to Winnie.  Winnie quickly becomes Harry's constant companion and his company's mascot.  Walker depicts Harry and Winnie playing their own version of hide and seek, Winnie sleeping directly under Harry's cot, and exchanging big bear hugs.

    Even when the war worsens and Harry's regiment is sent overseas, Winnie goes, too.  And proves to be a good sailor all the way across the ocean, while Harry lies in bed seasick.  But when it is time to go to the battle front in France, Harry realizes he can't bring Winnie along, after all, she could get seriously hurt on the battlefield.  So Harry makes a tough decision - to place Winnie in the London Zoo for safekeeping.

    Winnie and Harry playing
    Winnie proves to be such a gentle bear, that children are allowed to play with her and ride on her back.  The war lasts four years, and at the end of it, Harry has another tough decision to make - to take Winnie home with him or let her stay at the zoo, where she has so many friends.  He decides to let her stay at the zoo.  Winnie has one very frequent visitor named Christopher Robin, loves Winnie so much that he renames his teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh, after which his father begins to make up bedtime stories about the adventures of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh that eventually grow into a book.

    The real events surrounding the relationship of Harry and Winnie are remarkable enough, but Sally Walker has told it in language the is simply and straightforward for even the youngest of readers to understand.  Jonathan Voss's soft watercolor and pen and ink illustrations done in a palette of browns and greens reminiscent of nature and the military compliment and provide a visual extension of the story.

    Walker includes an Author's Note about Harry and Winnie, as well are sources and websites for further exploration.  Be sure to look at the photo's of the real Harry and Winnie on the endpapers.

    This is a story the will delight young readers some of whom are already fans of the Winnie-the-Pooh books and perhaps make a few new ones.

    This book is recommended for readers age 5+
    This book was borrowed from the NYPL

    Today is Nonfiction Monday - be sure to visit this week's roundup

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    16. Alleycat’s sage advice

    Pink encircledAlleycat went missing and there was no sign of him for a day and half. He didn’t show up until yesterday morning.  No one knew where he’d gone to and when he came back (he always comes back) he looked fitter and stronger than he’s been for years. Obviously he’d been invisible, and whilst invisible he’d seen the solution to the problem of the bears.  The bears must have sensed that their reign of terror  was coming to a close, because they all came out and encircled Pink and surrounded her in a little bear-army on top of the kitchen table.  Pink telling off the head bearThen Alleycat whispered something in Pink’s ear, and a moment later all the bears were flat on their backs and Pink was in control.  Pink in controlAlleycat let her have all the glory, but I’m sure she wouldn’t have been able to overthrow the bears without his sage advice.Pink and Alleycat

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    17. Bears Galore!

    I've been drawing LOTS of bears lately. Fun to do -- as usual -- and this particular arrangement (for example only) feels a bit like a Richard Scary page... Bride Bear. Groom Bear. Burly Bear. Policeman Bear... :)

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    18. Otter & Bear

    Well I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't post at least two bears for the month of March, as bears are the one animal I've drawn professionally more than any other. I like bears so much that my website is even called BigBearIllustration.com.

    Star gazing in My Favorite Bear, written & illustrated by Andrea Gabriel, Charlesbridge Publishing.

    Front cover for Otter & Bear, still searching for its publishing home...

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    19. Otto & the Grand Prix Bees by Kip Noschese

    Otto is a bear with a unique talent for racing cars. It’s a talent that requires drivers to be fearless. Otto has only one fear. A great fear — BEES! When he crosses paths with some very smart bees that love racing as much as he does, he might need to overcome his fear if he wants to win.

    About the Author
    Kip Noschese is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has designed backgrounds for many award winning animated television shows, including Wild Thornberrys, Rugrats and Family Guy. Otto & the Grand Prix Bees (2013) is his debut children’s book. He currently resides in Henderson, Nevada. kipnoschese.com

    Get this on Amazon Otto & the Grand Prix Bees

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    20. Secrets of ‘The Ice Bear’ – an insight from Jackie Morris

    Jackie at a recent book signing.

    Jackie at a recent book signing.

    Last month Jackie Morris‘ haunting book The Ice Bear was released in a new paperback edition. To celebrate this I asked Jackie to share a little of the background to this bewitching story, to share some the book’s secrets.

    If you’ve already got a copy of the book you might want to have it to hand whilst you read what she reveals, so you can go back and look at the images with fresh eyes. And if you haven’t already found a place in your home for this piece of art between two covers, … well perhaps this post ought to come with a warning notice. There’s magic in and on the pages of The Ice Bear. Prepare to be charmed and enchanted.

    The Ice Bear began with an image in my mind’s eye. It was an image of a child, kneeling. Around the child there were bears, so that the child looked like the centre of a daisy and the bears were the petals. My job was to work out how to get the child there, and probably more important, how to get him out again. This is what books are about for me, asking and answering questions, and in the process discovering more questions.


    The Ice Bear began with a friend, pregnant with her first child. Something went wrong. The baby stopped moving, at full term. He died. She had to deliver a stillborn child. A tragedy for her and the child and her husband. The way people reacted to this was a shock to me. Quick, rush over it, brush over it, hide it under business, do anything but face the pain. (Not Sophie and Jon. They couldn’t rush over it, hide it, they had to face it.) I wanted to do a book about a lost child, about loosing a child. This was a thread that wove into the book. Though few would know if I didn’t say and the book is dedicated to Rhoderic, and Sophie and Jon and also to Katie and Thomas who were born by the time the book came out.

    Some of Jackie's first sketches for The Ice Bear

    Some of Jackie’s first sketches for The Ice Bear

    The Ice Bear began with a wish to do a book about polar bears, and to weave into it transformation and a legend, of the trickster and the shaman.

    The Ice Bear began when the flight of a raven began to stitch together ideas with its patterned flight in the Pembrokeshire sky, because all books are like rivers, fed by streams of ideas, coming together.

    The book is part of a series of books I have written about animals, each with a cover that is a portrait of the animal, staring out from the book. The covers are strong, almost iconic, and the books are often given shelf space so that the whole cover is seen, rather than being placed spine out on a shelf. I am told by bookshops who put the in the window that they work like a charm to bring people in to the shop, and one shop in Edinburgh said that people often missed their bus as they crossed the road to get a better look at the Snow Leopard when that was in the window. There’s something about eyes looking straight at you that still holds a primitive magic over the wild parts of the human consciousness. When I paint an animal in this way I am not searching for the humanity in the animal. I am searching for the soul, the spirit of the creature.

    Some of Jackie's covers, including her forthcoming 'Something About a Bear'

    Some of Jackie’s covers, including her forthcoming ‘Something About a Bear’

    Having ‘begun’ with an image the story then builds into a balance of words and images. Picture books are meant to be read aloud. The language needs to taste good in the ear, to look right where it sits on the page. A picture book is like a theatre, each page a stage set for that part of the story and in designing each page I often include parts of the stories that are only in the pictures. Once open I try to keep the words inside the pictures. I want the book to become a world where the pictures and the words tell the story. The composition is thought out right to the corners and often the corners and edges are where the main focus of the story is. (You can see this best in the picture where the child finds his mother bear. The image dominated the page but in the top right hand corner there is the figure of the father, charging in).


    I paint on smooth paper, arches hot pressed, beginning with pale washes and then building and building with layers and then smaller details. The paints that I use are Winsor and Newton Artist Quality watercolours, usually tubes, and I use ceramic palettes. I know these colours quite well now after 25 years of working with them. I know when to run wet into wet and how much water to use. Now I use sable brushes. They carry the paint so well and a brush like a series 7, no. 4 will allow a wide wash but also can pull the finest line when handled right. And in the same way that writing is like finding the answers to a series of questions, so too is painting. I am constantly asking myself questions, about composition and colour and line and finding the answers is what makes the book.


    In The Ice Bear the mother and the father each have a totem animal. The mother’s is the Arctic fox, and often when it seems that the child is alone on the ice you can see the fox is there somewhere, watching. The father’s is the owl, a fierce sky hunter. The boy’s is the bear and always will be. And raven, the trickster, a character who is perhaps a force for good, perhaps bad. He steals the bear child, but takes him to the hunter and his wife who have longed for a child. And when it is time he leads him back across the ice and joins the bear people with the human people forever. So is she good, or bad?

    During the telling of a tale things can change. When I originally wrote The Ice Bear the raven lured the child out over the ice with small shards of sea glass. But I had wanted the book to be set long before glass was invented. The child becomes the first shaman, a bridge between humanity and the bear people. It was a time when there were no borders and people wondered the land without any border controls. There was no concept of ownership of land. The very idea would have seemed ridiculous. And so I looked for something else, something more timeless and lit upon the idea of amber. Amber is natural, not a manufactured thing. And I have a necklace of amber beads that if taken apart by a mischievous raven would look just like the broken amber heart in the snow.

    Jackie's amber necklace

    Jackie’s amber necklace

    The Ice Bear has been published now in many languages, French, Spanish, Catalan, Danish, Swedish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese. This is one of the things I love about working with books. Words found on a hill top in Wales can travel the world. I also love the democracy of books. Paintings in a gallery are expensive and usually bought to be hung in one home. Books can be bought, translated, and borrowed from libraries. They can be shared.”

    My thanks go to Jackie for so generously sharing some of the stories behind The Ice Bear.

    The House of the Golden Dreams (an art gallery featuring Jackie’s work): https://www.facebook.com/TheHouseofGoldenDreams
    Jackie on Twitter: @JackieMorrisArt
    Jackie’s blog: http://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/blog/

    3 Comments on Secrets of ‘The Ice Bear’ – an insight from Jackie Morris, last added: 5/5/2014
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    21. Cuddling up to Nightbear by Rebecca Patterson

    nightbearcoverThere are lots of recipes for great picture books but Rebecca Patterson has certainly worked out one of the best set of ingredients. She takes a good dose of humour, a non-patronising, reassuring, sincere child’s-eye view of the world and adds in highly observant illustrations and a sprinkling of drama. She did it with the Roald Dahl Funny Prize winning My Big Shouting Day!, the brilliantly perceptive My Busy Being Bella Day, and has pulled it off once more with her latest book, Nightbear.

    An old bear has arrived at a new home; the book opens with us following him from the factory where he was made, to his first (and unappreciative) home, to a charity shop where he is eventually bought by a young girl out shopping with her mum. The bear is thrilled to have been chosen, but how will he fit in, when he discovers that the girl already has lots of teddy bears with very important roles in her life?

    A heartwarming, delightful story not just about having a great teddy bear to hug, but also about the importance of having someone listen to your stories, and the reassurance that comes from being ‘picked’, about the everyday, real worries a young child can have (from nightmares, to being ill in the night), and most of all about the enormous fun to be had with imaginative play, Nightbear is a perfect picture book.


    Starting with the gorgeous, dark sparkly cover, this book is so much fun to look at as well as to listen to. Patterson draws with a delightful, fluid simplicity; lots of smooth curves abound – as if echoing the cuddliness of the bears, and the warmth of the family. Some of the tiny details in the illustrations are like poems; they ring true in an uncluttered, authentic way that makes you see them anew, for example the way the mother holds the hand of the child when they’re browsing in the charity shop, or the manner in which the father holds the hair of the child whilst she is being sick.

    A book every nursery and infant school should have, a book every charity shop should use to make a brilliant, eye catching window display, a book every family with young children will enjoy, Nightbear is an ideal book to cuddle up with.

    Feeling sad at the thought of all those unloved teddy bears leading lonely lives on charity shop shelves we armed ourselves with 50ps and went off with a mission to each rescue and bring one home.


    This one (above) looked pretty comfy.


    This one looked rather resigned to its fate.


    These two had fallen over and were asleep when we saw them.


    This one was too expensive.

    But eventually we each found a teddy that we loved, came home, and celebrated by dressing them up (as happens in Nightbear). I’m rather jealous of the bustle and headgear newly named ‘Treacle’ got to wear:


    Little ‘Buttercup’ got a pretty nifty hat:


    But ‘Candy’ stole the show with her badges and slides…


    Whilst dressing our teddies we listened to:

  • Stompy the Bear by Caspar Babypants
  • Freddy Bear, The Teddy Bear by Ralph’s World
  • Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear by Elvis Presley

  • Other fun activities to get up to alongside reading Nightbear include:

  • Making a patchwork blanket. Even the youngest kids can have fun making a paper collage out of coloured squares, whilst older kids could paint fabric in blocks of colour (thinned down acrylic paint is great for this if you don’t want to get dedicated fabric paint).
  • Having a Teddy Bears’ Picnic! A blanket, some bears, some biscuits… oh and a good book or two and you’re all set!
  • Ready Baggy Brown by Mick Inkpen for another great view of a teddy bear factory line
  • Enjoying these pictures of really old teddies and wondering what sort of lives they’ve led
  • Have you a favourite teddy bear? Or a teddy bear who is assigned a special job?

    Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.

    4 Comments on Cuddling up to Nightbear by Rebecca Patterson, last added: 5/22/2014
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    22. Picture Book Roundup: Historical fiction edition

    Here are two fiction picture books that feature days gone by.  Both books should tickle your fancy and make fun read-alouds for school-aged children, K-2.

    • Kulling, Monica. 2014. The Tweedles Go Electric. Ontario, Canada: Groundwood. Ill. by Marie Lafrance.

    The year is 1903, and the Tweedles are "a bunch of fuddy-duddies," according to their neighbors.  Even when they finally decide to purchase a car, neighbors still tease them,
    "People don't want that.  They want noise.  They want smoke." ... "They want a car to sound and smell like a car." 
    But rather than the latest in gas-powered autos, the Tweedles purchase a smart, green, electric car.

    With a wink and a nod to the future of "green" transportation and women's empowerment, it is the youngest of the Tweedles, Frances, and the "green" car that save the day when an emergency arises.  Marie Lafrance's illustrations accurately evoke the era and are reminiscent of the style of Hergés Tin Tin.

    With an illuminated capital I and leafy, gold flourishes, Brother Hugo and the Bear begins firmly planted in the monastical world of the Middle Ages,
    It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book.
    As the reader soon discovers, a bear has eaten the monastery's beautifully illuminated copy of St. Augustine's letters.  It becomes Brother Hugo's job to painstakingly recreate the massive, illustrated tome —a job that "would have been full easy to endure if it had not been for the snuffling."  The source of the snuffling, we soon discover, is the bear, who has not yet had his fill of letters.  Written and illustrated with great reverence for the early art of book-making, Brother Hugo is humorous as well.  Both the monk and the bear are earnest and joyful.

    Based loosely upon a true story, Brother Hugo, in combination with its included Historical Note, Glossary, Author's Note, and Illustrator's Note is illuminating for both children and adults.

      A Discussion Guide for Brother Hugo and the Bear.

    0 Comments on Picture Book Roundup: Historical fiction edition as of 5/22/2014 8:00:00 AM
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    23. Wild About Bears – Perfect Picture Book Friday

    Title: Wild About Bears By Jeannie Brett Published by Charlesbridge, March 2014 Ages: 6-9 Themes: Bears Nonfiction Opening Lines: Eight bear species live on earth today: the polar bear, brown bear, North American black bear, spectacled bear, Asiatic black bear, sloth … Continue reading

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    24. Wild At Heart

    The sentimentalization of bears began with “Teddy’s Bear,” that cute and cuddly version of the powerful predator that was first manufactured following President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot a malnourished and frightened she-bear who had been tied to a tree for him to “hunt” at his leisure. It’s a fascinating story, one that I […]

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    25. The two cubs who’ve been hanging out in our backyard a...

    The two cubs who’ve been hanging out in our backyard a lot. Their two big hobbies are charging at each other and climbing trees. (Photo by a neighbor.)

    0 Comments on The two cubs who’ve been hanging out in our backyard a... as of 6/26/2014 12:41:00 AM
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