Gabriel Evans, Norton and the Borrowing Bear, Berbay Publishing, September 2021, 32 pp., RRP $25.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780645069655
Norton and the Borrowing Bear is the second title in the Norton series by talented author and illustrator, Gabriel Evans. A simple story about a new neighbour (but old friend, Bear) who keeps borrowing Norton’s favourite possessions without returning them.
Evans perfectly captures in the text and illustrations Norton’s frustration, as Bear borrows Norton’s possessions and barely offers him a chance to say ‘yes’ or even ‘no’ to his many requests. Norton’s attempts to ‘soothe’ himself are also thwarted by Bear and his borrowing ways. Some children will definitely be able to relate to Norton’s anxiety over how Bear might treat or mistreat his possessions.
However, when Norton finally (explosively) asks for his things back, Bear promptly returns all his possessions and eventually their friendship is restored. This book provides a valuable starting point for talking about borrowing, being polite, sensitive and considerate, and maintaining friendships. Beautifully illustrated by this award-winning author/artist with some lovely, detailed drawings that capture perfectly the changing expressions of Norton and the bear. The endpapers depicting all the borrowed items are a delightful bonus.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Douglas