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We're Going on a Bear Hunt 25th Anniversary

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by Sharon Greenaway (subscribe)
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Children's Book turns 25 and still fun

Book Review: We're Going on a Bear Hunt
We're Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, first published 1989, Walker Books, 978 0 7445 2323 2, $16.95 Paperback.

What better way to spend an evening of adventure with your children than to read together We're Going on a Bear Hunt? While the title may have you worried that your children will never get to go to bed, the story and its denouement will ensure your children and perhaps even yourself will want to snuggle down for a good night's sleep.

I vividly remember my now adult children jumping along to the story when it was sang as a song in playgroup: the "Swishy Swashy! Squelch Squerch!" sounding text always producing hilarious faces as well as actions on children young and old. This incredibly engaging picture story book turns 25 this year and so Walker Books has decided to celebrate by releasing a 25th Anniversary Edition.

If you are not familiar with this story, a family of five plus their dog decide to go on a bear hunt and must tackle all sorts of obstacles before bravely encountering the bear.

Rosen's brilliant repetitive text enables even very young children to join in easily with the story.

Oxenbury's warm and funny pictures, including the nearly scary bear (could he be more puzzled at these visitors?) teams so well with the text and makes the scary bear not really all that terrible.

MICHAEL ROSEN says: "I'm always amazed and delighted by 'bear hunt'. It's a chant, a poem; a fun and games romp with actions to make up… When I was asked to turn it into a story to be illustrated, I wondered if it was possible but I had a try, added some words of my own and waited. Then came the day I saw Helen's pictures – and I was utterly blown away. She had turned those words into a family epic."

HELEN OXENBURY says: "Michael and I never met until after the book was finished, but what was wonderful about it was there was nothing described in a way that restricted me. I modelled the children and the dog on my own. The bear's posture I modelled on a friend who had depression, with his dropped shoulders – I felt the bear was probably lonely and wanted company rather than to eat the children!"

For lovers of fine children's story telling and reading 2014 will see WALKER BOOKS embark on a year-long publishing programme of We're Going On A Bear Hunt, including the 25th anniversary paperback and board book editions, a Baby Record Book (April) and for the first time ever a sound-chip book to be released in September.

You can also join the bear hunt on line, go to the website.
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