A Thousand Hugs from Daddy, by Anna Pignataro

In your arms it’s safe and snug,
you always give a thousand hugs.
And I’m as happy as can be-
one hug is not enough for me!

Starting at home and then out into the day a father and child go through the day playing, resting and even overcoming obstacles in the ford of bad weather – with hugs every step of the way.

While the text could be any pairing of adult and child, the illustrations, coupled with the use of ‘Daddy’ in the title, show this pair as a father and infant polar bear. Home is an igloo, and most of the book takes place outside against snowy backgrounds. The palette of mainly whites and greys is gently brightened with soft yellows of light and muted blue skies and snowflakes. This visual gentleness echoes the lyrical rhyming text, making it suitable for cuddle time or bed time.

A beautiful, tender celebration of father-child bonds.

A Thousand Hugs from Daddy, by AnnaPignataro
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781760276973

The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland

Winter had come early and Bear was running late.
He was feeling very sleepy, it was time to hibernate.
He hurried down the mountain, past the icy rocks,
and never even noticed a rather sneaky Fox.

The Bear is back – and this time he’s really sleepy. Winter is here, and he needs to hibernate, but a sneaky fox thinks Bear needs a new bigger cave. First he offers a train tunnel, then a bat cave, and lastly an ocean-side cave. When bear decides he’s had enough and wants to go back to his own snug cave, he finds Fox and his friends have moved in.

The Very Sleepy Bear features the bear who youngsters may well know from The Very cranky bear and other offerings. Told in humorous rhyme and featuring the big brown bear and assorted other characters in gently humorous acrylics , the book will nightstand repeated rereading – which is just as well, because it will be requested over and over.

The Very Sleepy Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743812549

Bird and Bear and the Special Day Ann James

Bird wakes up to a beautiful day.

‘Happy Birdday, Bird,’ she says to herself.

Bird flies off to share it with her best friend, Bear.

Bird wakes up to a beautiful day.

‘Happy Birdday, Bird,’ she says to herself.

Bird flies off to share it with her best friend, Bear.

Bird and Bear are the best of friends so it’s no surprise they want to spend a special day together. They venture out, complete with provisions, open to whatever they might encounter. They look for big things and small things, short things and more. They even stop for a picnic. But there’s one element of their special day that Bird is waiting for and Bear saves for last. Illustrations are outlined in black pencil and filled with watercolour.

Bird and Bear are back in a new adventure, and this time it’s Bird’s birthday. They set out on an adventure to celebrate. Their visit to the park includes many diversions as they explore many opposites: big and small, low and high. Their final stop is atop the hill for Bear’s special birthday surprise. There is a Pooh Bear and Eeyore feel to their meanderings and their conversation, which is delightful. This is a wonderful celebration of not just birthdays but of the joys of discovery and sharing of everyday wonderfuls. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Bird and Bear and the Special Day, Ann James

The Five Mile Press 2016 ISBN: 9781760402808

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller


Little Bear's First Sleep, by Lesley Gibbes & Lisa Stewart

Maybe it would be soft like his mother’s fur.
He waited with his legs curled high.
Maybe it would be firm like his father’s hug.
he waited with his head tucked low.
Maybe it would be sweet like fresh woodland grass.
Little Bear waited and waited…nothing happened.
Little Bear was awake.

It is time for Little Bear’s first big witer sleep. His moother and father fall asleep quickly, but Little Bear is wide awake. What will the big sleep feel like? And what will happen if he can’t get to sleep? He tries all kinds of positions, but it is only when he snuggles in close to his parents that sleep finally finds him.

Little Bear’s First Sleep is a gentle picture book story about – of course – bears, and sleep, but also about navigating rites of passage towards independence. With his parents asleep, Little Bear must solve his dilemma for himself, but it is with the knowledge that his aprents are close that he finally does so.

The illustrations, using soft colours in watercolour and gouache, are just beautiful, and teamed with the gentle text make this a lovely bedtime story.

Little Bear’s First Sleep, by Lesely Gibbes & Lisa Stewart
Scholastic Australia, 2016
ISBN 9781743624012

Where is Bear? by Jonathan Bentley

Where is Bear?
Where could Bear be?

A young boy is ready for bed, but cannot find his bear anywhere. He searches first the bedroom, then the rest of the house, and even outside. The reader can see what he apparently can’t – a huge reddish brown bear that shadows him everywhere. Finally, in desperation, the boy asks the reader  Have you seen Bear? But, though an answer from the reader might be forthcoming, the surprise is that boy looks around and finds, not the big bear, but a teddy bear peeking out from a rug in the bedroom. The boy then presents it to the big bear and, together, the pair go to bed.
This humorous, clever picture book will draw the young reader in, and encourage them to interact. The apparent humour of the boy seemingly unable to see the huge bear who follows him everywhere, coupled with the twist at the end, makes for lots of child engagement and laughter. Bentley’s colourful pencil and watercolour illustrations fill each spread, and allow for minimal text.

Where is Bear? By Jonathan Bentley
Little Hare, 2016
ISBN 9781760122911

Bear Make Den, by Jane Godwin & Michael Wagner, pictures by Andrew Joyner

9781760110017.jpgBear make Den. Den good. Den great. Den just right… Den not done!
Den need… Chairs! Wait. Den need… Table! Den still not right!
Den need… oh!

Bear has made himself a Den, band he loves it, until he realises it is missing something – or, in fact, some things. First it’s chairs, then a table, a bed, and more. Finally, with the Den fitted out and decorated, Bear realises what the Den really needs – more bears.

Bear Make Den is a gently humorous story told in very few words. Kids (and adults, too) will love the playfulness and even the very young will see the clues as to what is really missing, in the second, empty chair, the double bunk bed, the couch and so on. The underlying message about the importance companionship is a good one.

The text , by Jane Godwin and Michael Wagner, is ably supported by the artwork of Andrew Joyner, with Bear’s expressions , mostly happy but also puzzled, determined and more, an absolute delight.
Sure to please all ages.

Bear Make Den, by Jane Godwin & Michael Wagner, and Andrew Joyner (ill.)
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781760110017

The Very Noisy Bear, by Nick Bland

The Very Noisy BearIn the Jingle Jangle Jungle,
there was music in the air…
And it landed in the ears
of a very sleepy Bear.

When Bear is woken by his friends playing music, they suggest he joins in. But when he tries to play the drums, he bashes too hard and knocks them over, when he tries to play the guitar, his claws get tangled in the strings, and when he tries the trumpet, he makes a loud screech that scares the monkeys. Luckily his friends are persistent -and when he’s offered the microphone, Bear soon has everybody dancing when he roars in perfect harmony.

The Very Noisy Bear has all the fun of its predecssors, including The Very Cranky Bear, with humorous rhyming text, gorgeous animal-filled illustrations (rendered in acryclic paint), and a gentle, humorous story.

Lot sto like!

The Very Noisy Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic Press, 2015
ISBN 9781743627853

Available from good bookstores and online.

Meet My Book: Pickle and Bree's Guide to Good Deeds, by Alison Reynolds

It is a pleasure to welcome Alison Reynolds to the blog today. Alison is here to introduce us to her two new books, which sound absolutely wonderful. Welcome Alison!

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.Pickle & Bree's Guide to Good Deeds: The Birthday Party Cake
Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds – The Decorating Disaster
Pickle and Bree’s Guide to Good Deeds – The Birthday Party Cake
Illustrator Mikki Butterley
The Five Mile Press
October 2015
2. Why did you write the book?
I was commissioned to write a book about manners subtly hidden in a picture book.
3. How long from idea to publication?
About 9 months. I feel as if I’ve given birth to twins!
4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?
I had been ill and delayed the whole process. (A big thank you to understanding editors)
5. Coolest thing about your book?
The illustrations! I love them.
6. Something you learnt through writing the book?
That it is possible to have a message and a story without being didactic. Also, sometimes it is possible to break the rules. These books are over the customary 500 word rule for picture books.
7. What did you do celebrate the release?
Dinner at favourite Italian restaurant.

Pickle & Bree's Guide to Good Deeds: The Decorating Disaster
8. And how will you promote the book?
I’m having a colouring competition and another competition for adults beginning Thursday 15th October.
9. What are you working on next?
There are a few ideas floating around for picture books, and I’ve got the first page and outline of a historical YA.
10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?


Thanks so much for visiting, Alison. The books look divine.

The Very Hungry Bear, by Nick Bland

Bear was in a GRUMPY mood,
he hadn’t eaten any food,
and he couldn’t catch a single fish to cook.

The Very Hungry Bear

First he was cranky, then he was itchy, now Bear is back and he’s Very Hungry. He’s been fishing all day without catching anything. When he does eventually catch something it isn’t one fish – but a polar bear with a whole armful of them. Polar Bear says he will gladly give Bear all of the fish if Bear will help him find somewhere to stay. Bear is happy to do this, and takes his new friend home to his cave. But the cave is too warm, and Bear is soon busy seeking out possible homes for his new friends. It takes a while, but eventually they find a place that is just right. Everybody is happy – but Bear –  ho has given his fish to prospective housemates for the white bear – is still hungry.

The Very Hungry Bear is a new installment in the series which began with The Very Cranky Bear and, like its predecessors is both heartwarming and funny. Bear  – and his friends, including the Polar Bear, are larger than life, with lovable and expressive features. The rhyming text flows well and the story has humorous twists which will delight young readers.

Very cute.

The Very Hungry Bear, by Nick Bland
Scholastic, 2012

Available from good bookstores or online.

A Bear and a Tree, by Stephen Michael King

The unlikely trio – a big white bear, a little girl and a mouse – come together in a surprising way against the delightfully whimsical winter landscape of King’s imagination

It began to snow, and Bear knew it was time for his big sleep. But instead of saying goodbye, he lifted Ren and nestled her in his coat. Bear was as warm as a summer memory.

As Bear prepares for his winter sleep, he finds his friend Ren (a human girl) crying because her favourite tree has lost its leaves. Even though he should be settling down to sleep, Bear picks Ren up and takes her to marvel at the wonders of winter – falling snow, a gurgling reek, glistening icicles and bendy branches. They join with Mouse to watch the twinkling winter stars and spend the night counting them. But in the morning, Bear is tired – and Ren knows that he must sleep. Together the three friends trace back to the tree, where they leave souvenirs of their journey before Bear, finally, settles down to sleep for the winter.

A Bear and a Tree is a breathtaking celebration of winter – and of friendship. The unlikely trio – a big white bear, a little girl and a mouse – come together in a surprising way against the delightfully whimsical winter landscape of King’s imagination. Like all of his book’s, King’s illustrations are seemingly simple and yet say so much, with a dream-like quality which the soft blues and whites of the winter landscape abet beautifully.

This a book which is perfect for snuggling up to read, in much the same way as the characters themselves snuggle up. Excellent for bedtime reading, or for rainy-day reading, or for any=time reading, really.

A Bear and a Tree

A Bear and a Tree, by Stephen Michael King
Penguin, 2012
ISBN 9780670075829

This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.