Shhhh, Project H …

I started a page to document my trials and tribulations, and constant regret (which will not be stated, but will always exist) over agreeing to curate a sort of retrospective picture book exhibition in conjunction with a certain publisher’s anniversary (pictured here. Pix taken from one of my own books).

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Gone bear hunting

There’s no rhyme and reason to which book I should write about first. So, I thought I’d choose a book that was there at the very beginning, and suddenly popped up right now. perhaps in the nick of time.

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We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (words by Michael Rosen, pictures by Helen Oxenbury) was one of the best-selling books when I first started working in the bookstore. In fact, it still is. But I never could get it, well, until now. Don’t get me wrong though. This did not mean that I ordered less copies of books by both of these superb creators because a good book, a bestselling author is very hard to come by. And even if I didn’t get their work, and there are many whom I don’t get, I’d still order as it would. (well, there is the occasional whine!) But I do love Helen Oxenbury, which is why by three reasons — I owned a copy. (1 – illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, 2 – I was starting to build a library of first books during my first pregnancy, 3 – it was a gift, or in fact a cute gift set)

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And because this mummy did not really get this book right at the beginning, so needed a few more years to read-aloud experience and self-confidence to be able to appreciate it. When I tried reading this book to Peanut, when he was very small, he didn’t take to it. (hey, i started read-aloud with him in the tummy. I nearly read the entire Chrestomanci series to him) I definitely tried it too early, not just in terms of his age, but also in terms of my read-aloud experience. Because only now, with a huge help from a video of Michael Rosen’s performance made in 2014 as part of the anniversary celebration of the book’s 25 years; have I gotten an insight into how to make this book work.

I stumbled upon it quite accidentally actually. I was looking for animated short films that were adapted from picture books (part of my current project research), and then there it was. I played it and was so taken by it, I made the kids watch it with me. At first, reluctantly but after the first verse, they were hooked. My son as usual asked me if there was a book, and — “do you have this book, mummy?” Luckily, I did. That was the beginning of a lovely relationship between the two kids and the book. Baby Hazel loves it so much! She’s just starting to talk a lot the past month, so you can hear her mimicking the reading of the book all the time.

“We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day. We’re not scared.”

There’s so many interesting elements to this book. The repetitive verses allow the child to follow the story easily. The sploshing, squelching, swishy and swashing makes great action/play for the kids to join in. And then at the back, they make an about turn and do the same actions in reverse. I guess the most important thing that i want to convey here is if you’re invested in the story, the kids know and they become interested in it, too.

But, why talk so much when you can watch the master at work, click here to go to the Youtube video.

Also, there are so many editions of this book, you may want to compare them a bit. There is the usual hardcover and paperback. But also two sizes in board format, as well as a press button sound version. I read the pop-up the other day, and am so very tempted to get a copy. The illustrations were redone for some pages to make the most of that format. And, finally, there was an animation of this … in case, you’re wondering.

Let’s all go for a bear hunt!!!