JAMES, Ann Bird and Bear Five Mile Press, 2013 unpaged $14.95 ISBN 9781743463796 SCIS 1605300
This deceptively simple book pays a lovely tribute to friendship, and every aspect demonstrates Ann James’s deep understanding of writing, illustrating and designing books for the very young.
Bird and Bear are best friends and it is Bear’s ‘bearthday’ so they decide to celebrate it together. Bird’s question (destined to become a family ritual) of ‘Is it a trolley day or a brolly day?’ is answered ‘a trolley day’, so a picnic it is. Packed into the trolley and off they go.
The restricted palette of red, blue and neutrals on the generous white space, the cheerful stripes in the endpapers and Bear’s PJs, t-shirt and beanie, the flowing lines with their depiction of warmth and movement, enhance the simple story line and contribute to the subtle delineation of character. Bear shows Bird ‘my friend, the other bear’ that looks out of the mirror at him when he cleans his teeth, and on the walk more reflections appear, now with both the friends, in the water and shop windows. Some of these are mentioned in the text, but others are for children to discover for themselves when closely examining the illustrations. The story ends with envelopes in Bear’s letterbox and a promise to celebrate Bird’s ‘hatchday’. A truly satisfying book – not to be missed!
reviewed by Jo Goodman