Bears don't cry! by Emma Chichester Clark

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Empathy is at the heart of this endearing picture book as a bear that is laughed at becomes the focus of people’s sympathy and support. George the big brown bear, lives in a summerhouse belonging to Clementine and her mother. His days are happy. Clementine has taught him to read and he fills in each day with chores around the house and reading books Clementine has borrowed form the library.

One day when he finishes a book, he decides to return it to the library and borrow another. Strolling down the suddenly empty street he notices the library is closed so tries to enquire at several nearby shops about the library’s opening hours. But they have suddenly closed as well. He strolls down to the market but people are no longer serving on their stalls. He inadvertently knocks some stalls over and gets himself caught up in the display racks. He hurtles through the air landing in a fountain and hears the people around him laughing. George realises they are laughing at him and tears fall from is face. Embarrassed and alone he is delighted to hear Emma’s voice as he climbs from the fountain, shedding even more tears. She admonishes the villagers standing and watching George and they try to rectify their actions, bringing him a towel and hanky to wipe himself dry while others come by to apologise for their rudeness. The book he wanted to return to the library also fell in the fountain and he apologetically returns it to the librarian, who gives him another in its place. He opens the book to read and the villagers all stand quietly listening until the finishes the book.

This charming tale of teasing and its consequences even for a big brown bear like George, will encourage readers to treat everyone around them with dignity, standing up for their friends and being loyal to those you hold dear. George is picked on needlessly and in crying shows that he has feelings like everyone else and these feelings should be respected.

This is a gentle story about people’s feelings and how easily these feelings can be upset, so encouraging readers to view everyone with respect.

Beautiful illustrations cover each page, the big eyes of the bear a focal point, especially when full of tears. I loved his eyes peering out from his embarrassed position in the fountain and the disappearing people in the village, while eagle eyes will take in the detail of the garden where he lives and the village square where he ventures.

Themes: Bears, Self worth, Teasing, Humour.

Fran Knight