Saturday 14 November 2015

Old Bear's Bedtime Stories by Jane Hissey

It was nearly Christmas. The toys all knew this because the children were very busy decorating the house. They were too busy to play and they wouldn't let any of the toys help with the decorations.
"You're a bit small to decorate the tree," they said to Little Bear.
"And you can't reach to hang paper chains."
They wouldn't even let Old Bear help to put up the fairy lights. It wasn't much fun at all for the toys.

Summary From Scribblers
Old Bear's Bedtime Stories is a beautifully illustrated, classic, picture book treasury by the much-loved author and illustrator, Jane Hissey. Featuring many of the beloved characters from the Old Bear series and a host of other soft toy friends, the book includes a selection of charming and enchanting adventures – from a winter picnic and surprise party to putting on a play or losing a snowman. The reassuring stories are perfect for bedtime reading.
Jane's illustrated picture books have been loved by children around the world for nearly 30 years. Published in 1986, Old Bear, was instantly acclaimed a new children's classic. Since then, Jane has written and illustrated over 20 picture books, each one taking up to a year to illustrate.
Jane's books feature the soft-toy characters and everyday objects that belong to her or her family. Old Bear himself was given to Jane by her grandmother when she was born. He has travelled the world with Jane; visiting schools, libraries and literary events, becoming increasingly worn and threadbare but still recognisable to millions of Jane's readers.
Ideal for age 3 years and upwards, Old Bear's Bedtime Stories will delight fans of Jane Hissey everywhere.

This is a very beautiful, hardback book. The cover is dark blue with gold lettering and cute pictures of some of the characters who feature in the twenty-one short stories and poems inside. The end papers inside the cover are lovely, too, with lots more colourful characters. The cover price is £16.99, which feels expensive, but it's a substantial book and probably worth the outlay if you're a fan of Jane Hissey's work.

The stories are very sweet and simple, perhaps even a little charmingly old fashioned, and are best suited to children aged between three and five, but there's a lot of writing here and fewer illustrations than I'd anticipated. In most cases there's at least one illustration on each double page spread, but there are a few double spreads which have no pictures and that's a shame as it's the artwork that makes Hissey's books so memorable. While most of the full page illustrations are great, I have to say that I found some of the smaller pictures a bit disappointing – not because of the quality, they're all beautifully drawn, but because they simply show a toy sitting or standing which doesn't relate to the action of the story. It also means there's not much opportunity for conversation about these pictures which, in my view, is one of the most important things about books for young children.

So, would I recommend this book? The answer is: probably. But, at this price, I'd keep it on a high shelf and only get it down when I had time to share it with my grandchildren so they couldn't ruin it. It's clear a great deal of painstaking work has gone into the making of it and it would be a tragedy to see it ripped or scribbled on. In the end, I have a feeling that this is a book that parents and grandparents will like more than it's liked by the children it's written for. 

These three Dirty Bertie stories are fun. In the first, Bertie thinks he's spotted a UFO and sends a message that brings aliens to his door. In the second story he has to choose between spending a Saturday with ghastly Angela Nicely or having a boring day in the woods with Eugene and his birdwatching-mad dad. The third story – the best of the three in my view – is about Bertie's dreaded school report. 

The main characters are well-drawn and some of the secondary characters, including Miss Boot, Know-All Nick and his mum, and the unsympathetic postman, are hilarious. 

The stories are written in short chapters which are perfect for bedtime. They'll also be enjoyed by children beginning to read chapter books by themselves. There are plenty of line drawings, too, to keep them interested. I'll definitely be recommending this book to all the kids I know because it's a thoroughly good read. 

1 comment:

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