By Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyuz
Published by Walker Books ISBN 9781406359251
Review by Vicky Stylianides
The story of a mischievous bear and the trouble he causes, whilst jumping in and out of his purple bear suit. A perfect disguise (apparently).
The narrative is erratic, but it seems that the reason is because there doesn’t seem to be one. With Bear up to something new on every page, it’s difficult to keep up, or actually understand how one page links to the next. As an adult (well above the target audience of 3+) I sadly had to read it twice to make sense of it.
Once I understood the concept (Bear being crazy and fun to the point where it becomes completely random), the scenarios were humorous, but without the humour the plot is weak. We don’t get to know the characters, and there is nothing to do apart from giggle at Bear’s naughtiness, or magic tricks, or stuffing his face with honey. And before you know it, it’s the end.
Bear is very energetic and playful, and the illustrations reflect this. However, they are not always successful at communicating the text or working alongside it.
There is a policeman who looks like a security guard.
And a poor little bunny who looks as confused as I did reading the book.
I Am Bear was also tested out at a primary school, with the help of a teacher relative and their colleagues. A year 2 class enjoyed it, however from an adults perspective it is slightly underwhelming compared to other children’s book on the market. In relation to the reading age, the book would need to be read to younger children with words like knock, guess and doughnut challenging to sound out.
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