Old Bear's Bedtime Stories by Jane Hissey, published by Scribblers (Salariya)
There are very few things in life as rewarding as reading a story to a child at bedtime, in fact it is probably number one. Over the last two weeks, our stories at bedtime comprised of the complete Old Bear's Bedtime Stories, a truly wonderful compendium of amusing, kindly reassuring and beautifully depicted tales of Old Bear and his friends, some of which were first published more than 30 years ago. Our three and a half year old daughter has been soothed each night by the gently meanderings of the book's charming characters, including the impulsive Rabbit, the accident-prone Duck and the wise Bramwell Bear.
The compilation cycles through seasonal settings, such as picnics in the sun, carving smiling bear-faced jack-o'lanterns (which by popular request we will now be making for Halloween), dressing up for the Christmas party, and knitting an un-meltable snowman. The stories are interspersed with whimsical rhymes and poems, and throughout the book the narrative is accompanied by Jane Hissey's now famous, near-photographic illustrations.
One of our favourite chapters was the story of Henry Isiah - the bear with one eye higher than the other - who wants to change his name to James. His friends arrange a new name party for him, but when the invitations are taken out for delivery by dog, he doesn't know who James is, so Henry Isiah doesn't get an invite and misses all the fun of his party, including the games and cake. As a result he realises it's a "bit risky" to change his name. Anyway he figures that he actually likes his name, mainly because when he writes it on a balloon it goes all the way round, and is twice as long as James.
This is a treasury in the real sense of the word, with a very high quality production value throughout this hardback's 160 pages. It would make a perfect gift for a special occasion like a first birthday and, like our copy, would be sure to become a long-term family favourite.