Saturday, 17 September 2016
To mark the 30th anniversary of the publication of the first Old Bear book in 1986, author and illustrator Jane Hissey has created a brand new story: Happy Birthday Old Bear, which will be published in September 2016.
The toys are getting everything ready for Old Bear’s birthday party, helped by their new friend, Elsie the elephant, who plans on giving Old Bear a painted umbrella as a present. They tie ribbons on the gifts, play party music and make a birthday cake, but when they head into the garden Elsie and her umbrella are blown away by a gust of wind and have to be rescued!
Featuring the soft-toy characters belonging to Jane and her family, this latest Old Bear adventure, illustrated with enchanting original artwork, promises to charm and delight children; both existing fans and those discovering Jane’s work for the first time.
Praise for Old Bear:
‘I'm not sure you ever grow out of Old Bear stories.’ The Bookbag
‘Sometimes I worry that books that we've loved for years might one day fall out of favour…but Jane's books seem to comfortably buck that trend.’ Read it Daddy
‘Every child deserves to be read to about Old Bear, his many friends, and adventures.’ Our Book Reviews Online
‘Jane Hissey’s characters make so many simple childhood experiences interesting and exciting and we love the way that the toys use their imaginations.’ Story Snug
Happy Birthday Old Bear is published in September 2016 priced £11.99
I am very privileged that Jane Hissey has written a special blog post about how Old Bear has changed over the 30 years of publication.
Old Bear started out life as just a bear. My grandmother gave him to me when I was born and he was my constant childhood companion. I had a largely outdoors childhood so he often needed repairs and I remember my mother stitching him a new nose and eyes when they were presumably lost in the fields! Her stitching remains to this day and helps to give him his unique look.
When I became an illustrator, and was asked to write and illustrate a children’s picture book, I decided this old bear (though 30 years younger than he is now) should be my lead character.
It is interesting; when you first draw a toy that is to feature in a book, before its character has developed through the story telling, it’s just an illustration of a toy; there is no ‘life’ This must have been the case with Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear before they developed their own personalities.
This is the very first drawing of my original group of chosen characters. It was done as a sample drawing before I wrote ‘Old Bear’ and was included on the title page of the finished book. The toys are all just about recognizable but their characters are completely undefined. They stand or sit awkwardly and it is obvious I am still experimenting with capturing their texture and choosing expressions and posture
As I drew Old Bear more and more (throughout that first book and then the subsequent twenty or more books) I found shorthand ways of showing his texture, of indicating the movements he was capable of. I got to know his shape and form and determined the expression he should have (kind, cheerful and wise.) In other word he became ‘Old Bear’ not just an old bear.
As Old Bear himself travelled the world to visit schools, bookshops and libraries in such far flung places as Australia and the USA, he left a little bit of his fur wherever he went and is now pretty threadbare. It hasn’t helped that he has also had an attack of the clothes moths and had to spend a short time in the freezer! The slight changes in appearance are noticeable in the more recent books where he has lost much of the velvet from his paws and a bit more of the fur from his nose. But Idraw him from life and that’s how he is. I say it’s all part of growing old gracefully!
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Today I am pleased to welcome Hazel Gaynor to my blog. The Girl from the Savoy is based in the 1920's, an era which I am very interested in.
The prologue starts in 1916, where Dolly is waving her sweetheart, Teddy, off to war. Teddy believes he will soon be back home with Dolly, however Dolly is not so sure. Fast forward to the start of the story, and Dolly is a housemaid, but has secured herself a job in The Savoy, an upmarket hotel in London. She knows it is one of the best hotels in London and Hazel Gaynor's descriptions of the hotel gives the reader an insight into this expensive and ornate decor and experience of the hotel. I have never been to the hotel, only seeing it on television and on the pages of magazines, but would love to experience The Savoy and through Hazel's narrative I feel I have a sense of a day at The Savoy.
Dolly works as a maid within The Savoy and works in order to pay for tickets to the theatre, where she would love to be, on the stage, entertaining the audience. However, there are lots of girls just like Dolly and it is a difficult occupation to go into. Along the way Dolly meets with both Loretta, a star of the stage, and Perry, a songwriter, who is also Loretta's brother. Loretta is hoping that she can make Dolly the new star of the stage, however there is the conflict in Dolly's jobs where she must be invisible at The Savoy whereas she must have a presence and be seen on the big stage.
I really enjoyed this book and I will be looking for more of Hazel's work in the future.
Thank you to the publishers, Harper, for sending me the book to review.