I was delighted to have the opportunity to review this new picture book by Alan Dapre and Alex Ayliffe, published by Little Door Books.
This is a fun, engaging story with bright and bold illustrations and plenty to interest 3 to 7 year olds. On one level it is a story about a boy called Ben, who got a cuddly teddy bear for this birthday when what he actually wanted was a Grizzly Bear. He takes his new teddy on adventure but abandons him when he gets stuck in a tree. But, then he realised cuddly bear is lonely and rescues him.
There is also another level to this story. As Ben gets more and more ‘Grizzly’ he turns into a bear. Which is such a great way of showing to young children what can happen to their mood as they get more and more frustrated, annoyed or disappointed at something or someone, or if they just feel grumpy and are not sure why. The four panel spread BELOW is one of my favourite. The story also givens children the opportunity to discover that a change of perspective and/or taking care of something else can help you to calm down. On the way home Ben cuddles new teddy close (to keep hime safe) and this helps to calm his mood.
What adds a lovely extra layer of humour and emotion to the story is the addition of two of Ben’s others cuddly animals, cat and dog on each of the pages. The illustrator Alex Ayliffe has done such a good job in capturing their reactions and emotions. Young children will love spotting them on each page and there are plenty of opportunities for child to adult conversations about how cat and dog are feeling as well as how Ben is feeling.
If you liked this be sure to check out the Porridge the Tartan Cat series by Alan Dapre. An original first chapter books series, about a cat that gets into all sorts of adventures and mishaps in Scotland and is one of the books that helped my son aged 7/8 get hooked into stories and reading.