Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, The Little Bear by Nicola Killen!

It's time to celebrate a new release! Today's read is a picture book, which is part of a series written by Nicola Killen. I remember receiving her first picture book about this little girl, Ollie, several years ago and immediately being hooked. Her books haven't disappointed me yet, since I'm a fan not only of Ollie's love for dressing up but also love the art style with its carefully added colors.

So, happy book birthday, The Little Bear!!!



THE LITTLE BEAR
by Nicola Killen
Paula Wiseman Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8





From beloved author-illustrator Nicola Killen comes an adorable back to school story about a bear cub soothing a little girl’s fears, tenderly told and illustrated in limited color with lovely foil and interactive die cut pages.

The end of summer can be a bittersweet time, and Ollie isn’t sure if she’s ready to go back to school. But the night before her first day back, Ollie dreams about a magical schoolhouse in the woods full of friendly little animals who make learning an adventure. When Ollie wakes up, she can’t wait to go to school!


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Gentle illustrations with a touch of shine add magic to the tale of a little girl and her nervousness for the first day of school.

Ollie has her first day of school the next day. She's packed her backpack and, by bedtime, is as ready as ready can be. After falling asleep, she's awaken by the sound of an owl. She decides to follow it and heads outside and into the forest, where she realizes that some of the animals are following the owl, too. When a little school house appears between the trees and a small, hesitant bear waits off to the side, her adventure begins.

I'm already a fan of this illustrator's works, so I was thrilled to get my hands on an ARC. It did not disappoint. Not only is Ollie as cute as always, but she's in another animal costume and ready to go. This always makes me smile since I know so many kids of that age, who would have worn their 'animal-self' to school if they could have (a couple of my own kids included). 

This tale dances perfectly on the edge of dreams and reality, making sure that the reader is left to guess, which side it is. The text flows very smoothly and makes a lovely read-aloud, which is very appropriate for the age group. 

Ollie's nervousness for the first day of school is subtle and underlays her sense of excitement. Unlike many tales, which deal with this theme, the nervousness is indirect. Instead of dealing with it herself directly, the theme switches over to a small bear and allows her to help him. It was a kind approach, which leaves a sense of happiness.

And I'm not going to forget the illustrations because those were more than lovely. The characters stay in shades of white, gray, and with a hint of black, while the surroundings gain a touch of dark blues and yellows...only Ollie's cheeks get an extra dab of pink. The result is a dreamlike setting, which invites in. As if adding a sprinkle of magic, gold, shiny details are dabbled in here and there. 

This is a wonderful read to help with those first-day-of-school nerves, but also works great as a bedtime read.


And here she is...

Nicola Killen has always loved drawing and still likes nothing better than taking her sketchbook to the zoo to draw her favorite animals: rhinos and penguins. She designed cards before starting an MA in children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art, and since then she has been working on her own books, including The Little Reindeer, which was called “an original and entertaining Christmas story with its own understated charm” in a starred review by Kirkus Reviews and “magical” by Publishers WeeklyThe Little Reindeer was named a Horn Book Holiday High Note. Nicola Killen lives and works in Cambridge, England.

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