Bears Don't Read! by Emma Chichester-Clark

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Bears Don't Read! by Emma Chichester-Clark

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Bear lovers alert! This book is both wonderfully bear-ish and a good story too!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780007425181

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I'm a sucker for bear stories. I find that I am very rarely disappointed by a book with a bear in it. Certainly, this particular bear book is charming, with lots of appeal for both bear-lovers and book-lovers too! George is no common bear, oh no. He's the sort of bear who sits on a bench, thinking about the meaning of life. No longer wanting to do the usual bear sort of things, he feels that he needs more...but what can he do? One day he happens to stumble upon a book and, with it, the new ambition for his life. George needs to learn how to read!

George is charming. I'm quite particular about how my bears look in stories, and George is one of those wonderful big brown bears, with a low down, hanging tummy and enough of a 'real bear' look about him as to be satisfying. He has claws, and a pointy nose, but he isn't at all scary. I very much like the picture of him sitting on a hillside, surrounded by flowers, reading his book in the moonlight. I also like how politely he sits, having a story read to him, towards the end of the story. He's a very charming bear, and Emma Chichester Clark's illustrations are, throughout the story, also very charming. There's lots of loveliness, lovely flowers, lovely hillsides, lovely lakes for swimming in. Yet she also manages to draw fear too, with a town fleeing the oncoming bear, and poor George being surrounded by the police.

The story is very well done too. I love the idea of a philosophical bear, and I liked the tale of him heading into town to try and find someone to teach him to read. Clementine's mother is obviously a sensible motherly type since she immediately recognises that George holds no threat and that he is merely in the school in order to learn how to read. There's a very sweet picture of George sitting in Clementine's garden with a spread of alphabet cards in front of him as he starts to learn his letters. I really like that we're told that he doesn't find reading easy at first and that he makes lots of mistakes. It's nice to show children that it doesn't always come easily. I also liked that we see George being read aloud to as well and, of course, with the ending suggesting that really George learning to read is just the beginning, well it's an ideal bibliophile picture book!

The story is quite involving, and I found my two-year-old had no patience for it, so it works best with older toddlers, and children in key stage one. It's particularly nice for children who are just learning to read themselves, for they can then identify with the bear's tentative steps in learning to read, his struggles and ultimately his success. A gentle, beautifully illustrated read.

For a grumpy bear story try The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland and if you can cope with the trauma of a bear getting lost then do take a look at I Love You, Muddy Bear by Jane Simmons. You might also enjoy Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C Stead and Erin E Stead.

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Buy Bears Don't Read! by Emma Chichester-Clark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bears Don't Read! by Emma Chichester-Clark at


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