Reviewed by Alison Miles
Rambunctious, vivid, active and full of wonderfully repeatable words – this could be said of any of Pamela Allen’s picture story books, and is true of Bertie. No wonder she is often in the awards lists and her books are in library bags everywhere.
Allen’s colourful illustrations ‘above the line’ suggest movement from the first endpaper. Her use of white space focuses the eye on her characters. Bertie is being chased by a bear (who I think is really his friend) so the Queen steps in to shoo the bear away. The others join the chase for the fun and the opportunity to make a lot of musical noise (trumpet, gong, horn, flute, drum and voice playing BLAH! BLAH! and BONG BONG-NG-NG and OOOOOH! etc).
Impossible to read quietly, children in the three to six year old age group love to imitate the sounds and stamp and twirl with the characters. Allen has used handwritten crayon text within the illustrations to emphasise sounds. Her words are expressive with onomatopoeia used infectiously. The whole story is like a very active musical and movement piece (which could be printed on a scroll) fading gently to a pom pom at the last. As Bertie and the Bear so vividly conveys, children enjoy music and movement and this makes storytime fun!
Bertie and the Bear, by Pamela Allen
Review © alison v miles, 2006. The Word Box blog @ http://thewordbox.blogspot.com