'Brave Bitsy and the Bear' is a lovely childrens' picture story written by Angela McAllister and ilustrated by Tiphanie Beeke. The main characters in the story are a small toy rabbit called Bitsy and a big brown bear! At first sight, the title might suggest that Bitsy has to be brave and protect herself from the scary big bear, but in actual fact that is not what the story is about at all! It is actually about two different acts of kindness, and because of this, is a good one to share with young children.
The story starts when poor Bitsy, who was going through the forest with her little girl owner, falls out of a pocket. She is scared but knows that she needs to try and find her way home so she sets off singing a brave song. This attracts the big brown bear who offers to help her find her way, even though he was just about to settle down for his long winter's hibernation. Bitsy climbs on his back and they set of, although it soon becomes apparent that the bear is very sleepy and Bitsy is going to have to work hard, singing and marching on his back to keep him awake. She is successful though and soon finds herself at home thanks to the bear, who then leaves her to go off and start his long sleep!
However, it is a cold snowy night and Bitsy can't help worrying. Bear was so sleepy and what if he doesn't make it to his cave - he will surely freeze! So, in the morning (and this is where she shows how brave she is!) she sets off, taking a ball of wool to unravel as a trail, hoping to find him. The weather is really bad and her worst hopes are realised when she sees the big bear having fallen asleep on the groud with no protection. Bitsy is unable to help him on her own though, but is soon joined by other woodland creatures who all help to make a mossy blanket to cover him for the winter! Now Bear is safe and Bitsy is reassured that he will be alright - which he is, and come Spring, when he wakes up he is very grateful and claims that that was the best winter sleep he ever had!
So all in all this is a rather lovely little story with a happy ending, which of course, is very important for young children. It also prompts quite a lot of discussion about how important it is to be kind and to help one another! It is obvious that Bear's kindness to Bitsy actually helped to save him in the end. The little character of Bitsy is very cute and both my girls love him - in fact, so much, that they want a Bitsy of their own! In the illustrations she is quite small and purple with long ears and wears a funny stripey jumper! (I wonder where I can get one of those!)
All the illustrations fit the book well - the forest backgrounds tend to be quite muted and blurry which makes them seem quite mystical. Both the bear and Bitsy are well defined and at the end the last picture is of the two of them having a great big hug! - very heart warming.
The language is fairly straighforward and there is quite a lot of dialogue which my older daughter enjoys joining in with. There is an opportunity to put on different voices which can be a lot of fun!
So this is definitely a book that my daughters and I would recommend as it has both lovely pictures and a good story to follow. It is published by Macmillan and has a RRP of £4.99.
Lost and alone, the little toy rabbit finds a kindly old brown bear to carry her home. But later, Bitsy realises her new friend is in danger and bravely sets back out into the deep snow to save him. This book presents a timeless, tender story with an irresistible miniature heroine.