‘It was just one of those days’, says Mr Bear (perhaps ruthfully) reflecting on the day that has just gone. And it certainly was, as the Bear family face the challenge of a morning that follows a long night. So they wake late and from that moment on the day is filled with minor, irritating catastrophes – the coffee gets spilt, Someone Else gets the Tyrannosaurus to play with … nothing is quite right. But even days that are off kilter will end – and a pizza take away, a surprise – and an early night with bedtime story will restore the equilibrium.
It is a pleasure to welcome the Bear family back as Jill Murphy with a deft touch and engaging, gentle humour portrays the events of ‘just one of those days’; events every family will recognise allowing young listeners to feel engaged and adults to enjoy a situation all too familiar but here safe within the covers of a book. It is the very ordinariness that makes the whole so attractive. This is the sort of story that children enjoy – a tale of the everyday. Here Jill Murphy’s storytelling is pitch perfect, no exaggeration or forced laughs. This is a comfortable and comforting read – as cosy and comfy as Baby Bear’s pyjamas – but never boring. Then there are Jill Murphy’s illustrations, the perfect accompaniment, both enhancing and extending the text. Her bold colours are never harsh but rather satisfying in their solidity. The expressions on the faces of her loveable characters convey the feelings exactly without resorting to cartoonish reactions. While the reader will revel in the bold full-page illustrations, there are also the delicate pen and ink vignettes interspersed through the text bringing details into focus. This family may be bears (with a close affinity to the Teddy at the end of the bed perhaps), but it is a family that steps off the page. A joy.