Emma Chichester Clark is well known for her creation Blue Kangaroo, as well as a number of illustrated classics, the latest being Pinocchio. Her soft pastel colours, delicate lines and neat figures are very recognisable. Here we see a definite move to a bolder approach. Bear is big and very brown. His presence dominates the pages and the reader can understand why he might strike fear in the hearts of those he meets. But a young audience can also appreciate his benign expression; this is no bogey man, but a bear who wants to learn – to learn to read in fact. His kindly character is reinforced by the green and gentle woodland landscapes of the spreads which set the mood. Then comes a drama in the library: jagged lines, a barrier of robotic policemen, tiny people fleeing! The effect is further enhanced by the clear font which mirrors the excitement of the moment through bold, enlarged text.
With a message that chimes well with the current concerns of the day, this is a book that will both delight the illustrator’s many admirers and attract new ones.