Saturday 30 May 2020

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A Bear Name Bjorn by Delphine Perret     {Reviewed by STELLA}
The third story in this delightful chapter book for youngsters is called 'Nothing' and it reminded me of what we all, hopefully, learnt to do in lock-down. Stop, slow down, and sometimes just do nothing. “Often Bjorn does nothing at all. But he’s never bored.” In this story, our friend the bear watches a tree grow, much to the consternation of his friend Squirrel. “What are you doing Bjorn? —I’m watching the trees grow. —But you can’t see anything! —You can see the leaves. —But they don’t grow! —Give them time.” He plays cards with the rabbit, who wins every hand and then does card tricks for Bjorn. He sits on a stump and rolls in the dust. Sometimes he reads alone, other times with Fox. He wanders home, maybe counting stars with the weasel and sharing a few quail eggs on the way. Bjorn reminds us the ordinary is extraordinary. “The day is done. Bjorn can’t wait to start over again tomorrow.”  Not all antics in the forest are ordinary. The opening story sees Bjorn winning a prize! A plush red sofa. It is delivered and positioned into his perfect little cave. All the forest animals think it is mighty fine and Bjorn is so lucky to have a comfy sofa, but the chickadee senses that something isn’t quite right. Bjorn wants his sleeping corner back — there just isn’t enough room in his cave with the new sofa. The solution — they put the sofa in a clearing under some oak trees. The weasel declares, "There you are! After a bit of rain, it will smell wonderfully mossy!” The woodland sofa is declared a success. This is a charming collection of stories, whimsical and slightly gauche, Delphine Perret’s text is delightful in its brevity and deceptively thoughtful. Combined with the simple and illuminating line-drawing illustrations this is sure to become a favourite as a read-aloud and an early reader for curious minds, with its gentle and humorous tone. Bjorn makes a honey sandwich without bread, the forest animals have their annual check-up with the wise owl (Bjorn needs glasses — luckily magpie has several pairs in her treasure trove), the animals dress up as humans for a carnival (which involves ‘borrowing’ some clothes from a camper's washing line), and Bjorn puzzles over the best present to send to his friend — a girl called Ramona — in the city. Ramona has sent him a letter with a wonderful thing called a fork enclosed — the perfect back-scratcher — better than his favourite rough bark tree! What will be the best present to post to Ramona? 'It’s Time' is the perfect bedtime story, as Bjorn gets ready to hibernate. Is he ready? And are you ready to meet A Bear Named Bjorn?   

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