Bears, Bears, Bears!: Martin Waddell & Lee Wildish (Hodder Children’s Books, 2013)
Martin Waddell has been creating picture books for… a little while! His work covers a wide range including enormous classics like Farmer Duck and Owl Babies, and personal favourites like The Tough Princess. He is also, of course, very well-known for the Little Bear stories.
What I find particularly interesting in his work is how his writing has kept up with the changes in picture books over the years. Modern picture books involve tight wording, using as few words as possible to convey the story in conjunction with the pictures. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, when the early Little Bear stories were published, it was still the fashion to have large blocks of text within the picture book but the Little Bear books are beautiful examples of how text and pictures can be combined to appear more interesting.
Bears, Bears, Bears! is Martin Waddell’s latest book, illustrated by Lee Wildish, joint winner of this year’s Red House Children’s Book Award for Spooky, Spooky House. In contrast to the Little Bear stories, the text is sparse. There are 359 words in Bears, Bears, Bears! compared to 976 in Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? [I just counted them myself, so I may have missed a couple!]
I wouldn’t remove a single word from Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear? any more than I’d want to add any to Bears, Bears, Bears! They are both right for the books they are.
Bears, Bears, Bears! is about a little girl called Ruby who wants to find some bears to play with. A friendly bear pops out from Bear Wood and they have great fun, but Ruby calls for more and more bears. Eventually all the fun becomes too much, and Ruby ends up with just what she needed: one good bear friend.
This is a lovely tale. “More bears mean more fun!” exclaims Ruby near the start, but more bears also mean less space for Ruby. Small children often want “More, more, more!” before becoming over-tired and overwhelmed (some adults too, for that matter!) and a book can be the best place to keep all the excitement, especially before bed time.
Ruby’s bears are a lot of fun and there are some fabulously funny moments throughout. With lots happening in the illustrations, the story is a joy to read. I adore Ruby’s bear especially, with his multi-coloured scarf. One for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and up.
Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Bears, Bears, Bears! by Hachette Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.