Congratulations to John Condon and Julia Christians on the publication of their new picture book, the best BEAR TRACKER. This fun to follow adventure is full of humour and the most adorable bear whose own story is told through wonderfully amusing illustrations.
The Story: A young girl packs her rucksack and goes in search of a bear. Her very entertaining running commentary tells us how to track a bear but the humour in the story comes from the illustrations which tell a story of their own…
the best BEAR TRACKER is a fun and interactive picture book with a surprising twist at the end – we’re given a set of ten rules that need to be followed in order for the experience to be successful – the first rule ‘Stay Alert At All Times’ particularly makes us laugh, throughout the story the character is blissfully unaware of what is going on behind her back.
We love the earthy colours that Julia Christians uses for the illustrations, they really immerse us in the experience. The bear that is being tracked has some fabulous expressions and gets up to some real mischief!
Age Range: 3 +
We’re delighted that author John Condon has joined us on Story Snug to track down five of his most recent favourite bear books…
MY FIVE FAVOURITE BEAR-BASED PICTURE BOOKS
When Catherine asked me to pick my five favourite books involving bears, I was thrilled. Although I quickly realized how daunting a challenge that would be. Only five? Which five?
Yes, I could reel off titles we no doubt all know – A Bear Called Paddington, Winnie the Pooh, Rupert the Bear, Corduroy, We’re Going on A Bear Hunt, and be quite pleased with that list. They’re all classic stories, after all.
I could list more recent books (relatively speaking) – The Bear and the Piano, That’s Not my Hat, Please Mr Panda, A Bear Is a Bear, The Koala Who Could, and know that I would be recommending expertly written and beautifully illustrated books from world class storytellers.
However, I want young (and older) readers to discover new books every day. To believe and to trust that new, brilliant, books are being written, illustrated, and published all the time. And I want them to track those books down because they can come and go all too quickly if they don’t find an audience. And they certainly all deserve to find an audience.
So, below are five of my favourite bear-based books published in the past year or two. Perhaps you’ve read some of them? But have you read them all? In no particular order…
The Eyebrows of Doom by Steve Smallman and Miguel Ordóñez
This book is just bonkers. A bear named Dave is minding his own business when two hairy things jump onto his face and ruin his day. Are they delinquent slugs? Or are they, as advertised, evil eyebrows? Well, they have legs, so perhaps they aren’t slugs. But do eyebrows have legs? Hmm, apparently so! Anyway, the whatever they ares, leap from one animal host to another, causing mayhem as they go. Until at last, everyone decides… enough is enough. The illustrations are bold and bright, and the rhyming pattern reads like a naughty limerick, which just adds to the tension, as it really does feel like it’s building up to something outrageously funny. Which of course it does.
Where Is Bina Bear? by Mike Curato
This reminds me of a story I’ve been messing around with for many years, although it has a different theme and a very different ending, which is perhaps why I like it so much. It’s a delightful book about an introverted bear named Bina, who feels uncomfortable in large social gatherings. Slightly unfortunate then that she seems to be guest of honour at a party thrown by her extrovert friend, Rabbit. I’m an introvert myself, so this story really resonated with me. What’s great about it too is that Rabbit empathizes with Bina and is happy for her to just be her, with no demands or expectations.
I’m Sticking with You by Smriti Halls and Steve Small
A heart-warming story about the nature and importance of friendship – including all its ups and downs. What at first appears to be a lopsided relationship between a squirrel and a bear proves to be anything but. Smriti’s rhythmical rhyming text bounces along nicely and the illustrations are full of character. I love Steve’s graphic style and the visual humour he weaves throughout the book. Smriti and Steve are a winning team.
The Bear and Her Book by Frances Tosdevin and Sophia O’Connor
This is a gorgeous story about a curious bear with a strong sense of adventure and a book with seemingly all the answers to her questions. However, there is one question that the book can’t answer, and Bear must discover for herself “Where she needs to be.” A charming and thoroughly heart-melting debut from Frances, whose gentle, lyrical rhyming pairs perfectly with Sophia’s warm and emotive illustrations.
The Bear and the Little Green Thing by Diandian
Another wonderful story about the nature of friendship. You might even say it’s about friendship with nature. A passing bird drops a sapling on to the unsuspecting back of a bear. What follows is the blossoming of the most unlikely friendship you could ever imagine. That we end up caring so very much for a green speck on a bear’s back is testament to Diandian’s storytelling prowess.
I hope you track down the five books I’ve mentioned (actually, there were fifteen. Don’t tell Catherine) and enjoy them as much as I have.
Here’s a question for you before I go. What’s your favourite bear-based picture book written in the last year or two? You don’t know? Well, what are you waiting for? Go track it down.
This is a great selection – thanks John! I’ve narrowed my favourite bears down to three – Paddington Bear, Old Bear and Teddy Robinson. They’re not all picture books but the books and the bears played a huge part in my childhood reading experiences 🙂
About John Condon
John lives with his family in sunny Kent and enjoys weekend walks on the beach. Well, that’s what he tells people. In reality he loves nothing more than to sit in a comfy armchair, with a fresh cup of tea, dreaming up new story ideas. In fact, that’s exactly where he is right now. Very occasionally he will go for a walk on the beach but only after putting up a good fight. He has two other picture books – The Pirates Are Coming, and The Wondrous Dinosaurium, which you can buy from any online bookseller and hopefully still find in your local bricks and mortar bookshop.
You can find out more about The Best Bear Tracker by visiting the other stops on the blogtour…