Bird and Bear and the special day by Ann James

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Five Mile Press, 2016. ISBN 9781760402808
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Friendship, Shadows, Birthdays. Ann James' beautiful drawings grace every page, reflecting every move of the two friends which young children will adore. I love Bear's boots and scarf and wooly hat, the leaves swirling around his feet, and the gull, Bird, sitting upon his head. James' few confident brush strokes give pages full of interest, humour, colour and meaning while both story and illustrations impel the reader to turn the pages.
It is Bird's birthday and she meets best friend, Bear with his rucksack to go out for the day. They head for the park and as they go, Bird asks questions to which Bear responds encouraging readers to predict the answers that Bear will give. The readers will be exposed to the words high and low, big and small, wet and dry, while looking at their big shadows. It is time for their picnic and Bear takes three small cakes out of his backpack. They eat two and Bear puts one away for later. Meanwhile they continue their game of finding something big and small, but also tall and wet, until their day is at an end. Bear calls Bird to meet him at the top of the hill where birthday greetings are given along with the third cake for Bird for her birthday. Bear has not forgotten after all.
This delightful tale of friendship also includes learning new words as well as looking at the things children can do on a picnic. The lovely soft illustrations reflect the care shown between the friends, their looking after each other, remembering a birthday and making it a special day for the other.
Fran Knight