Little One by Jo Weaver

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Little One by Jo Weaver

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Join Mother Bear and her Little One as they leave their shelter for another year in this wonderfully illustrated and poignant, but brooding children's book.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 9781444922738

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Longlisted for the 2017 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal

There is a subtle balance needed when finding a book to read to a toddler; one that takes into account the needs of the child, but perhaps also the needs of the adult. Do you really want to be stuck reading an ugly book about a pair of underpants for several months? (Oops we seem to have lost that book!) However, a book with striking visuals that strikes a chord with a parent may not always chime with a child. Is a children's book always meant to be just for kids?

When Mother Bear leaves her hiding place after winter, in her footsteps walks a Little One. The two of them set off on an adventure that will see them roaming the lands and forests, finding food and fighting the elements. Only when the snow starts to fall again does Mother Bear start to worry, can she find shelter again and protect her Little One?

The sentiment behind Little One by Jo Weaver is very evocative, especially to any mothers with an under 5. It is all about having something small and precious that you need to protect with all your might. This slightly daunting task is reflected not only in the story (such as it is), but in Weaver's dark illustrations. There is a brooding in her black and white imagery that catches the eye, but also reflects the worry that Mother Bear has.

There is no denying that the pictures are gorgeous, but the subtlety of tone and the idea of fear will be lost on even the most advanced of toddlers. Instead, they see a rather bland picture book. The very young will be drawn to the contrasting black and white elements, but once a child starts to be drawn to colours, you may find that this book sits on the shelf waiting to be read again by mother and not child. This is not helped that the story is essentially a year in the life of some bears and there is no real plot.

Using a children's book to create a mood piece is a brave move by Weaver and she should be commended for having a go. You have to label this book like Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak, as a book that is perhaps loved by the adult, but actually scares the child a little. Little One may seem poignant to you, but will be a little too imposing for some children. It is still a valid buy as a lovely book for an adult to read, but perhaps it fails slightly to capture a child's point of view.

A very similar sentiment can be found in Your Hand in My Hand by Mark Sperring and Britta Teckentrup, whilst a nice family adventure that a child can enjoy is Clangers: The Brilliant Surprise by Daniel Postgate.

Buy Little One by Jo Weaver at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Little One by Jo Weaver at

Buy Little One by Jo Weaver at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Little One by Jo Weaver at


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