Having been an avid reader as a child and having read to my girls for eight years now, I’ve got a pretty good handle on what books they like. But my Little Man, 3, is a different story. While he adores Thomas the Tank Engine and always runs for those books at the library, along with anything with a bus, truck or digger on the cover, they don’t always engage him to the very end.
So I was thrilled when a mum from school lent me a few of her boy’s favourites: Giraffe’s Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, The Talent Show by Jo Hodgkinson and Don’t Wake the Bear, Hare! By Steve Smallman. We enjoyed them all, but read Don’t Wake the Bear, Hare! over and over.
It’s about a group of woodland animal friends preparing a party to mark the start of Spring when they discover a bear asleep at the site of their planned festivities. A young hare suggests waking the bear, but is shooshed by the others. ““Bears,” Badger said, “are enormous and hairy. If you wake them up they get angry and scary!”” The little creatures are frightened of the bear, but determined to celebrate, so they work quietly together to set up their soiree – all the while trying not to wake the bear.
The story is written in rhyme and flows easily with no clunky bits. Author Steve Smallman has done a wonderful job building excitement about the spring party. There’s tall stacks of teacups, lanterns and balloons, as well as jelly and blueberry tart. The illustrations are glorious – colouful and fun with a definite party feel. Illustrator Caroline Pedler has added festive elements like party hats and bunting and brings the animals to life with human-like expressions that my children love. There’s plenty of different animals to point out in the pictures too.
This is a fun book to read with a little one, whispering the words so we don’t wake the bear either. Then building to a crescendo, where my Little Man can join in the reading. And there’s a happy ending too, so it’s fine to read at bedtime.
You can buy Don’t Wake the Bear, Hare! from the Book Depository.
This book kids love is written by Steve Smallman and illustrated by Caroline Pedler. 32pp. Published in Great Britain by Little Tiger Press, 2010. ISBN: 9781848950337.