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First, the author names are Catherine and Laurence Anholt (this was my mistake).
Two young children wake up one morning to find their teddy bear has come to life and is waiting to take them on an outing to a Teddy Bear Town. The simple text makes for a short and sweet bedtime read, always useful in our house. There are just a couple of lines of rhyming verse on each page, with a nice rhythm for easy reading aloud, and I think it could be enjoyed by quite young toddlers. However, I liked the amusing pictures, with lots of detail to look and discuss with slightly older siblings.
We never learn the children's names but the pictures suggest a little boy and his baby sister. Interestingly, the baby can walk but is wearing a babygro. Teddy Bear is bigger than the children who have gone out in his care but is dressed as a toddler in comfy dungarees.
The picture which attracts most discussion in our house is introduced with the words "We couldn't believe what we saw" in which lots of teddy bears of all shapes and sizes are shown doing all the things that humans do when they go into town to do their shopping - walking, pushing prams, driving, taking their family out, shopping and sitting down to eat. The scenes in the book are well chosen to cover a lot of areas of interest to small children, and there is lots to chat about and some fun new words to introduce.
Most of my 2 year old's favourite books involve scenes of eating and this book scores highly here, with porridge and honey to share for breakfast, shopping for good things to eat, including milk shakes, chocolate ice cream and candyfloss. I would like to see them shopping for fruit and vegetables here. Bear dines a bit more healthily on bananas and sultana sandwiches.
They take part in lots of other activities on this hectic day out, riding on Bear's bicycle (with cycle helmets on, though he doesn't wear one), going to a paddling pool and a fun fair and looking in on a school (chosen to rhyme with pool, perhaps). There is a page full of machines for work and travel - trains, tractors, diggers and planes. There's also a big teddy bear dance.
The story ends with a balloon ride home - wow! - and lots of stars and the moon as night falls. Then bear takes kids up for their night time routine, with a bath and stories in bed before they are tucked up. There is a bit of idealisation here, perhaps - these children are very well behaved and don't play up or argue about going home or going to bed. Still, this is a lovely snuggly book for reading at the end of a busy day.
I think this book is worth borrowing from the library or even buying for children under 3 - my 4 year old still enjoys this but I think preschoolers would grow out of this a little too quickly.
This review first appeared at www.thebookbag.co.uk
The book is on sale at Amazon in hardback for £9.89, with the paperback due to be published in January 2012.