Review Blog

Feb 05 2016

Bear make den by Jane Godwin and Michael Wagner

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Ill. by Andrew Joyner. Allen & Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760110017
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Humour, Bears, Home and family life, Renovations, Loneliness. The curiously old fashioned illustrative technique used by Joyner in this story of a bear building his home, adds another layer of interest and discussion to enthrall and involve its readers. Bear moves around his newly carved out den. He is very proud of what he has achieved, but realises all is not quite finished. He builds chairs and a table, which make him happy, but still things are not quite right. He saws up a tree and makes bunk beds but finds he cannot read his book on the bottom bunk bed, so he makes a sofa. But when light fades, he makes some lamps to give him light. He then feels hungry and so makes an oven, and makes a large cake. He then decorates the walls of his cave with art work, but still he is not finished.
Each step in the decoration and furnishing of his home will be endorsed by the audience as they predict what he might do next, which will add an element of surprise and recognition for the readers. They will take delight in the illustrations of Bear building his home and finally realising that what he really needs to complete his home is another bear.
A story to melt the hearts of the readers who see from the start that Bear needs a friend, the simple structure will be most appealing. Bear is good at many things, but needs friends to complete his home, and children will not fail to recognise that a missing ingredient in their lives could be satisfied by having friends. A recognition of the satisfaction that friends and family bring to a Bear and therefore a child will be long discussed after the book is finished. Children will be intrigued with the simplistic words used by the Bear, and be made aware that he might not be a wordsmith but he is certainly good with his hands.
Fran Knight

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