Where Bear? by Sophy Henn published by Puffin
In recent weeks, having just moved house, and as our older daughter turns three, books with themes of home and growing up have had particular resonance.
Where Bear?, Sophy Henn's marvelous and visually distinct debut, has become a perfect choice, especially suited to a variety of times of change.
Bear and the boy have been friends since they were both little. Now they've grown up and bear is too big and bearish to live in the boy's house any more. So begins the search for bear's new home. Although both of them agree that bear needs to find a new home, their search seems futile - bear isn't happy with any of the boy's ideas.
Would bear like to live in a toy shop? There are bears there. No says bear. "Then where, bear?" What about the circus, the jungle, a cave? None of these is suitable. We all enjoy the rhythm of the tale, echoing the boy's response to the bear's reluctance "where bear?"
Then, while enjoying an ice lolly, the pair realise that bear likes the cold. What about the Arctic? At last, bear is happy and the boy is happy. Boy goes home, and the two speak on the phone, growing up through the years.
We see them older now, and bear now has a family of his own. They agree to meet again and go somewhere. "But where, bear?" A clue to their destination is revealed in a charming final page.
With its gentle exploration of what home is, finding one's place and growing up, this is a great big bear hug of a book, content rich and perfectly matched by warm, matte illustrations.