Jane Godwin and Michael Wagner (text), Andrew Joyner (illus.), Bear Make Den, Allen & Unwin, Feb 2016, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760110017
Bear works hard to make a den. But as soon as he thinks he’s done, Bear realizes it needs something. After many creative attempts to fill the space, Bear finally realizes what it’s missing.
Bear Make Den is the story of a lovable and handy bear who builds his own den. From bare necessities to creative details, Bear furnishes his home. But readers soon feel his despair as each new item doesn’t bring him satisfaction for long. Even though we start to realise what Bear needs even before he figures it out, it’s a delight to watch him try so hard to fill the void. The final page is a warm and happy scene that makes for a lovely, feel-good ending.
With very sparse text (scarcely over 50 words), the story relies heavily on the illustrations, which are picture perfect. Reminiscent of the ever-smiling Berenstain Bears, the colourful illustrations bring a warmth and humour to Bear’s hard work. I could feel the good nature of this lovable main character from the wonderful cover illustration showing a multi-tasking bear in traditional carpenter overalls.
The story is simple, sweet and heart-warming. My husband and I have yet to tire of this one after many reads and our four year old enjoys guessing what Bear does next as the page turns are perfectly timed to reveal each of Bear’s new ideas. Bear Make Den is sure to be enjoyed for a long time to come.
Reviewed by Stephanie Ward