Friday 4 September 2020

 Bear in Space by Deborah Abela and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall (Walker Books)

ISBN 978-1-760651-51-0 HB $25.99

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

This is a book about bears and astronomy and making friends – a great combination. At the start of the story ‘Bear’ likes to spend his time being quiet and reading facts about space on his own. He is different to the other bears who like to run and shout – sometimes they stare at him and call him names. But Bear spends his time building a rocket and despite the other bears laughing at him, launches into space. In space, Bear finds Panda who is interested in the same things he is, and they become friends. 

The end papers are covered with pictures of constellations, setting the scene for the story. Colourful illustrations fill the pages with cheerful looking bears and comfy-looking space ships containing supplies of hot chocolate and topical books. One page shows some of the interesting space facts Bear has picked up, including: An astronaut’s footprints on the moon will last forever because there’s no wind to blow them away. The idea that it is good to be yourself is an important one for all kids to think about. And when Bear does do this, he finds someone just like him, and he’s not alone anymore. 

The story uses facts based on science and then the rest of the story is pure imagination. When they return from their ‘trip’, Bear and Panda plan the next one. The other bears stop being unkind and become interested in rockets and space. Some even want to join the next journey. Bear learns two important things in the story: there is nothing wrong with being different and it makes all the difference if you have just one friend. 

Bear in Space is written by Deborah Abela (writer of fifteen books including a picture book called Wolfie) and illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall (illustrator of about twenty books including Huberta’s Big Surprise). It is suitable for pre and early primary school aged children.  

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