Thursday, 2 May 2013

Bearly There

Bearly There by Aleesah Darlison, illustrated by Jill Carter-Hansen (Windy Hollow Books)
HB RRP $25.95
ISBN 9781922081056
Reviewed by Donna Austin

The opening line of this book tells readers that ‘Bearly There’ has been ‘Blake’s teddy forever’. The next page explains that this is why Bearly was considered to be ‘barely there’. Ironically, he isn’t barely there at all because everyone notices him. They all tell Blake how horrible Bearly’s old, tattered and ragged body is. Aunt Phelicia gives Blake a new bear with lovely fur, named Winston.

Pushing Winston’s special button makes him talk. He also behaves rudely. ‘Silly old bear, you don’t have a special button’ and Winston throws Bearly out the window when Blake is not around.

Turning the page reveals that it’s time to go to the park and Blake searches everywhere for Bearly. Mum tells Blake, ‘Look for him when we get back’. The next page begins, ‘As soon as Blake got home he went searching for Barely again’. I would have loved to have seen what a trip to the park without Bearly was like for Blake, or how being left home, discarded and alone, was like for Bearly.

At home, Blake still can’t find Bearly and can’t sleep without him. It’s not a problem though, as it is at this point that Blake sees Bearly climbing into the window. Barely and Blake drift off to sleep and Winston is sad to have been forgotten.

Bearly hears Winston sniffling and tells him there is plenty of room for him in the bed too, even though he is a naughty bear. Bearly helps Winston climb up and they both keep Blake ‘safe and warm all night.’ Black, grey and the occasional splash of red make for pleasing illustrations.

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