* Prices may differ from that shown
As you can probably tell from my review history, me and my daughters love books, and it is something I encourage at every opportunity. They both have a story every night, and have both done so since birth. As a result our house always has a ton of books in it, which get rotated, recycled from the eldest to the youngest and eventually either donated to school book drives, charities shops or just thrown away if they have been loved so much that they fall apart (which is a frequent occurrence).
However, there are some books which never seem to leave the house - the Martin Waddell Little Bear series of books is a case in point. My eldest daughter's favourite book in the Little Bear series is "Well Done Little Bear", although in our house it is known as "sploosh!", the reason for which you will discover as you explore the bvook.
The story revolves around 2 bears - Big Bear and Little Bear. The 2 bears go off exploring one day, Little Bear leading the way and showing how brave and independent he can be. However, when they get to the stream Big Bear warns Little Bear to be careful when crossing it. However, Little Bear is a little to cocksure of himself in falls in the stream - hence the pet name for the book in our house. Big Bear has to wade in and get Little Bear, and they go hone together in a much quieter and subdued manner. Back at their Bear Cave the 2 bears snuggle up warm and cosy in front of their fire (as most of the books seem to end), and Little Bear tells Big Bear that he wasn't scared when he fell into the water, as he knew that Big Bear would be there for him.
The book has a lovely warm sentiment and the illustrations are wonderfully detailed and beautiful. All the Little Bear books are great for bedtime stories, as they end with a warm, cosy fire and 2 bears snuggling, but his one in particular has a fond place in our hearts.
'Well Done, Little Bear' is another book in the delightful Little Bear Series written by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Barbara Firth. If children have read some of the other books they will be quite familiar with the characters of Little Bear and Big Bear and the wonderful relationship they have with each other. However, if they have not read any of the others, it does not matter as each story stands alone in its own right.
All of the books do start in the same way though with exactly the same words:
Once there were two bears, Big Bear and Little Bear. Big bear is the big bear and Littke Bear is the little bear. One day.....
I think this is lovely for young children because as soon as you start a new book with them there is something instantly familiar. Because we have read a few of these books, my four year old daughter is pretty well able to 'read' the first page to me (and loves doing so)!
In this story, Little Bear decides that he wants to go exploring. He is feeling brave enough to climb Bear Rock, bounce on the old bendy tree and cross the stream all by himself! He always wants Big Bear to watch him doing all of these brave things and is very proud of himself. Big Bear is always very encouraging, but is also, as proves to be essential, always there for Little Bear when he needs help. In all of the cases Little Bear is probably a little too adventurous and definitely is in need of Big Bear's help! Big Bear helps him off the big rock, catches him when he falls of the bendy tree and helps him avoid the slippery stone after he has fallen in the stream.
At the end of the book Big Bear and Little Bear return to their cave and reflect on their day. Big Bear asks if Little Bear was scared when he fell in the water and Little Bear replies that he wasn't because he knew that Big Bear would be there to save him - to which Big Bear answers that he always will!
I think this is a lovely reassuring story for little children and it really reinforces the roles of parent and child. It's important that little ones want to try out new things but us older and wiser parents have to be there to keep an eye on things just in case they go wrong. Little Bear reminds me in lots of ways of my adventurous four year old who is always desperate to try out new things and to test her limits. Many the time has she said 'Mummy, watch me do this!', only for seconds later, to need me to comfort her tears when a big jump or a climb has all gone wrong! It's quite a good story in helping to point out that it's OK to ask for help when you are trying out what you can do - but also to try things out for yourself too!
I always enjoy the simple language and the wonderful illustrations in these stories. They say that 'a picture speaks a thousand words' and it's definitely true in this book. There are some wonderful pictures of Little Bear trying out his various feats with a very determined look upon his face. However, my favourite is the one where he has just fallen in the river and is crying 'Help Me!' I've never seen such a bedraggled and frightened looking bear in all my life! Barbara Firth has just captured the perfect expression in this picture. The next page which shows Little Bear receiving the most enormous bear hug from Big Bear is just gorgeous too!
The whole story with the pictures has a very gentle feel to it. The language used is very simple but also very apt and all the pictures seem to be muted with very soft lines and pastel colours. This seems to make it the sort of story which can't be rushed and it makes you want to read it so softly and gently. As I said before, the story is very reassuring which makes it a perfect book for bedtime.
Our paperback copy is published by Walker Books and has a RRP of £5.99. However, I bought it as part of a set from The Book People and it worked out at considerably less!