I’m just back from Norway and I sadly realized that the trolls and their cousins, the hidden folk, have mainly been reduced to tourist fare and folktales are considered old fashioned!! However, I have discovered a great new Australian tale which plays with folktales in an utterly charming way.
No Bears is written by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Leila Rudge. Meg McKinlay is from Bendigo, a town I have actually visited. My friends Karen and Paul run a vineyard there and have raked up some impressive awards (check them out at www.sandhurstridge.com.au), so I’m not the least bit surprised that such a delightful and entertaining tale should grow out of its soil.
No Bears is the kind of story that makes me wish for a host of small children so we can huddle together to read and reread. It is about a girl named Ella who wants to tell a proper story, which in her opinion should include fairies, princesses, castles, and maybe some slightly scary monsters, but definitely no bears. There are too many bears she insists. As Ella proceeds with her tale, which is filled with references to various fairytales, the readers see that another story is quietly unfolding at the same time. And this one includes a very, very nice bear! It does helpful things like bring water so that the owl and the pussycat can sail away and even rescues the fairy godmother who is too busy searching for her wand to help anyone.
The illustrations are equally winsome, so comic and full of clever details that you just want to linger. With its many layers of reality this is one book that children are sure to want to hear over and over again.
As an added bonus you can download a word find page from the Australian publisher’s site, as well as classroom ideas for parents and teachers.
So go bears!
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