Don't call me bear! by Aaron Blabey

cover image

Scholastic, 2016. ISBN 9781760159849
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Humour. Koalas. Verse. Assertiveness. With the quotation, 'Do I look like a bear to you?' on the back cover, readers will know they are in for a treat opening Blabey's latest picture book. An array of koalas covers the back page and one on the front cover asserts, 'Don't call me bear!'
In rhyming lines, Blabey's koala called Warren tells the reader of the history of his species in Australia when the first Europeans to see them mistakenly called them bears.
Captain Cook made the mistake according to Warren's history book, and this error has come down through the ages. Well, Warren has had enough. He cites all the bears in the world, showing us an image of what they look like and where they are found, underlining the fact that they do not appear in Australia. He is a marsupial, not a bear. He shows us other Australian animals and offers us comparisons. We do not call an emu a chook, or a platypus a duck, so why call him a bear? The arguments Warren puts forward are strong, but eventually to no avail, as the other Australian animals still call him a bear.
Blabey's illustrations are hilarious, showing the exasperated Warren doing his best to change people's minds. Each page is different, drawing the eyes to the text which is often boldly placed in large declamatory font. A group of Australian animals appears throughout the text like a chorus, a quiet offering of the accepted truth against Warren's assertions that they are wrong.
Reading this out loud with a group of kids will be hilarious. I can see many kids wanting to take Warren's part as the book is read, predicting the rhyme of each line, calling out the lines as they are read out a second and third time.
I had a great deal of fun reading this book and I am sure others will too.
Fran Knight