Diandian, The Bear and the Little Green Thing, Berbay Publishing, March 2022, 40 pp., RRP $25.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780645069648
This easy-to-read picture book for young children shows us the brief but important relationship between a bear and a seedling. Beginning as a dropped seed, the seedling slowly finds purpose and meaning in life. We know less about the bear because it is a silent character, but this provides readers with the opportunity to interpret and imagine.
The colours in the illustrations are muted, using a lot of natural, earthy tones, which is ideal for a story set in nature. Right from the front cover, I was reminded of Jon Klassen’s style of illustrations, especially his hugely popular, This Is Not My Hat. Unfortunately, because of my love for that book, when this one didn’t quite measure up, I was a little disappointed. I needed to remind myself that kids are less critical and that this story has completely different themes.
I suspect my musings and wonderings about the themes in this story are not how a typical child will respond. I reflected on one-sided friendships, the burden of caring, and how life changes. Admittedly very sombre and more reflective of me than the book. It’s more likely a child will see the kindness of the bear, the courage of the seedling and the opportunity for growth.
Well suited to the pre-school and early primary school demographic, this book could be quite a quick read. My recommendation is to re-read and think more deeply, question, discuss and listen. There is something here, but you need to stay with it a little longer.
Reviewed by Cherie Bell