Bear in space by Deborah Abela

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Illus. by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760651510.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Bear dreams of space travel, building himself a rocket ship and taking on board his dog, books, an extra blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate to drink.
He tries to tell the other bears of his interest and plans but they laugh at him and his interesting facts. But he finally is ready and blasts off, drifting around in space, drinking his chocolate and reading his books. Here no one laughs at him or calls him names. One day just as he is beginning to feel somewhat alone he spies something coming towards him. It is Panda and he invites her on board. She is just as interested in space and they share their enthusiasm about rockets and asteroids and alien life forms, making plans for future forays into space together. When they return to Earth they find their plans are noticed by the other bears, and one even volunteers to go into space with them. The bears no longer laugh but ask questions, and they are answered.
This delightful story about space, complete with a sprinkling of interesting facts throughout the book, will enthral younger readers as they notice the trappings that all good space explorers need to have. Not only will readers be encouraged to look up and view the night sky, but will be intrigued by Bear's explorations, asking about other space explorers and what they have seen. The facts dotted in the story also intrigue and delight, giving a few basic facts about space that are easily absorbed and become a stepping stone to learning more about the space above us.
The digital illustrations are also a treat as we see the space gear that Bear and Panda wear and use, all easily made from recycled material available in the home or classroom, encouraging readers to emulate Bear and Panda in their endeavours.
Each page is illuminated with images of space: stars, galaxies, constellations, satellites, rockets, the sun and many many books with titles that will bring smiles of recognition to the reader. A quiet humour instills the story and is replicated in the illustrations, as Bear and Panda find each other in space, sharing the same passion.
The bullying by the other bears is undermined when they see his success, and begin to show interest themselves. Activities are available in the Story Time Kit. Deb and Marjorie introduce Bear in space.
Themes: Space, Rockets, Space travel, Bullying, Friendship.
Fran Knight