NOONAN, Diana (text) Robyn Belton (illus.) The Teddy Bear’s Promise Craig Potton Pub, 2013 unpaged NZ$19.99 pbk ISBN 9781877517792
This is a timeless book that, both in form and content, speaks across generations. Firstly, the story. The day that Dad helped Gran shift house, he found an old dusty box that (we later find out) contained a teddy. But before he opens the box for his son Max, he wants to tell a story. Dad then begins to recount his story about a bear who met a little boy and who also made a lot of promises. For every positive and negative event in life, the bear promises to be there. Empathy is writ large as the bear signifies its possible role in the young boy’s life. However, one doesn’t stay young and slowly and inevitably, the relationship changes though teddy bear is a constant. Guess what is in the box and for whom the promises were made!
However, what makes this book special is how form reinforces content. The old style of soft pencils/pastels, cross-hatching and the subtle blend with watercolour that is the artist’s particular style reiterates the timelessness of the story. Recommended. JMcK