Monday 17 March 2014

There, There

There, There by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Ivan Bates (Koala Books)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 978-1-74276-072-8
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Little Hansie Bear loves to play outdoors. He plays imaginary games, and games by himself or with others. Unfortunately Hansie is a little clumsy and manages to hurt himself a bit. But Dad is never far off, with a kiss, a hug and a few words of comfort and Hansie can go back to playing. When Dad hurts himself, Hansie knows just what to do.

There, There is a lovely story for the very young. Hansie’s games are simple, everyday activities which children will relate to – hide and seek, digging holes, swinging. And the relationship between the small bear and his father is a close loving one. The role reversal at the end between the two is touching.

The illustrations are soft. Gentle colours fill the pages behind the writing, continuing beyond the pictures. Wind, swirling leaves and bending grass bring the feeling of constant movement, not only of the young active bear, but also of the world he inhabits. Looking closely into the pictures, readers will discover other creatures who appear throughout the story such as the duck family who follow Hansie about. There is much in these deceptively simple pictures to discover.

And the sense of family at the end is strong, through both the words and pictures.
“Ouch!” he [Dad] said, as Mum pulled out the thorn. “We are definitely not having a good day!”
Hansie cuddles Dad and says, “There, there, we’ll be alright now.”

Sam McBratney is the author of the very popular Guess How Much I Love You, and this story has the same strong emotional tug with a dreamy quality which makes it perfect to read to preschoolers. The repetitive element to the storyline and the gentle caring nature of the characters, along with the beautiful illustrations will make this a popular bedtime reading choice.

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