Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris & LeUyen Pham (Hachette Book Group)

I’m beginning to understand the power of book cover designs. There might not be much happening on this book cover, but I picked it up thinking ‘ok, another bear book.’ It was the bear’s black beady eyes that suggested something very interesting might be happening inside.

Firstly the endpapers tell a before and after story. In the front cover endpaper, a blue (the prettiest blue ever!) river snakes through a black and white forest. Not many animals around yet, but take a close look and see if you can spot a couple of raccoon tails and turtle shells. Bear peeks out of his cave too. On the endpaper at the back, the whole woods are filled with glorious colours and many animals are out too.

Front jacket – endpapers
Back jacket – endpapers

This is a beautiful story which starts with a river, who didn’t know it was a river until the bear falls in and begins his adventure. Bear finds many friends on his journey down the river, and they all find out things that they didn’t even know before. Frog finds out she has many friends, Beaver realises he is a leader, the Raccoons learn about caution and so on. 

The illustrations are stunning and the colour palette used is exquisite. As the group gathers in numbers, the adventure turns from tentative to enjoyable to a blast!! When all the animals hit the bottom of the waterfall, their faces reflect happiness and satisfaction from their joint venture. The illustrator has drawn the water splashes in such a unique way, it reminds me of fingerprint impressions. 

The text is minimal and simple and can be confidently read by a beginner reader. This is a book where children can get stuck in the artwork. Look for clues as to which animal might join the ride next. Beady eyes in the reeds, a pointy nose in the pine tree? Kids will enjoy reading the expressions on these animal faces too!

For parents and kids who like to read everything, find author’s and artist’s notes at the back with a bit of philosophy around the story. It is in the interactions with others that we discover who we are and those interplays of life will help tease out our purpose in life too. So the message is: jump into life, enjoy the ride and learn something about yourself along the way.

Suggested age: Read aloud to 3+. Read by self 5+. Recommended for a beginner reader.

Published by Hachette Book Group, 2019

If you would like this book for your bookshelf, check out your local bookshops, because bookshops are amazing places and should be supported to keep them open! However, the convenience of clicking from your comfy sofa is sometimes a necessity. In that case, Booktopia or Amazon it! 

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