Itchy Bear by Neil Griffiths and Judith Blake

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Itchy Bear by Neil Griffiths and Judith Blake
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Genre: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Gentle illustrations and a nicely repetitive, easily memorable story about poor, itchy bear.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 28 Date: may 2007
Publisher: Red Robin Books
ISBN: 978-1905434114

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Poor bear has an itch. An all-over sort of itch. And everywhere he goes to try and have a good scratch it seems he's disturbing someone! Will he ever find anywhere for a satisfying scratch?!

This is a sweet story to share with young toddlers. Each time the bear finds a place to scratch it seems that someone nearby is disturbed and bear finds himself interrupting a digging mole, a snoozing owl and various other creatures. He finally finds a spot for a jolly good scratch but unfortunately he's picked an apple tree and as he begins to scratch a huge pile of apples falls down on his head. Poor bear! The repetition works well through the story, with bear finding a scratching spot but then being thwarted in quenching his itch, each time saying oh dear and then oh dear, dear and oh dear, dear, dear! We quickly caught on to the pattern and started throwing in our own lengthy versions of 'oh dear, dear, dear' along with poor bear!

The appearance of various different animals allows for dramatic readers to try out a whole range of voices (I'm not sure why exactly but I seem to especially enjoy playing the part of disgruntled animals...) and I liked the way the story was told, building on Bear's rising anxiety. The ending appeals to all, with poor old bear covered in a pile of rosy red apples which he then, of course, sits and eats very happily, his itch having finally gone away. It's a short little story so works well for those 'again, again!' reading requests and is very memorable so slightly older children can flick through it themselves and follow the story using the pictures to show them what's happening.

The illustrations are sweet and gentle, in soft pale colours. You can spot little creatures hidden away on most of the pages, and although the bear looks a tiny bit out of place amongst the pretty British wildflowers to me I'm sure little ones won't notice anything awry! It's a little basic for older pre-schoolers, but is a sweet story for smaller ones to hear over and over.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: For more bear stories try these: Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett and Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth.

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