Wednesday 31 July 2013

The Very Brave Bear

The Very Brave Bear by Nick Bland (Scholastic Press)
HB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-1-74283-800-7
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

The Very Cranky Bear is back in a wonderful new picture book by Nick Bland. In this adventure Bear challenges Boris Buffalo in a battle to see who is bravest. They climb trees, cross raging rivers and chase porcupines. However... when faced with a quiet dark cave, neither feels particularly brave.

Bland’s smooth rhymes and expressive language – they ‘wear a beard of bees’ – is lovely to read. The rhythm jumps along, rolling beautifully off the tongue as it is read aloud.

There is great humour in the interplay between the words and pictures.

Boris wandered up a hill
The steepest he could find
Then tumbled down the other side
...and Bear was right behind.

Bear has landed on top of Boris Buffalo as they both look surprised at the position they have ended up in. They pick themselves up and march, heads held high, on to the next challenge.

The pictures are fabulous. The detail makes them come alive - Boris Buffalo’s tongue out a little when he is concentrating, Bear’s face, nose in the air, as he balances like a butterfly ready to dive, and the frog on nearly every page, unnoticed at first (by the reader) but eventually becoming a very important character.

This story makes me think of the primary school playground and the casualness of the challenges thrown around – who can climb highest, run fastest or be the best. The Very Brave Bear is a fantastically engaging picture book for all preschool and early primary children to have on their bookshelves. They will laugh at the antics and love the adventures of Bear and Boris Buffalo. And they will relate to rising to the challenge of wanting to be the bravest.

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