Bear Was There

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Sally Anne Garland, Bear Was There, New Frontier, March 2020, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925594935 

Mouse is warm, safe and loved in his mother’s arms, but he is eager to venture outside. Mother Mouse warns him of ‘The Bear’, but Mouse bravely begins to explore the world on his own. We share in his first experiences and the range of emotions he feels, and later what happens when he meets Bear for himself.   

Sally Garland tells the story with heart and just the right amount of detail for an early childhood audience. Her earthy, textural illustrations bring great character and warmth to the animal’s personalities. I particularly liked the image of little Mouse curled up in the mass of Bear’s fur, perfectly capturing a feeling of peace, safety and love.  

This a lovely warm tale of first experiences, feelings and finding out for oneself. Bear Was There also reminds us that love comes in all shapes and sizes. Suitable for children aged 3-6 years. 

Reviewed by Julie Bertola

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