The cover of this magical picture book shows a large red velvet theatre curtain opening to reveal a bear dressed in an evening suit in the spotlight. He is completely absorbed in playing the piano. As you look closely you notice that there is a forest in the background. This is the story of the Bear and the Piano.
One day in the forest a young bear cub finds a mysterious object. It is a piano and at first it makes an awful noise. As he grows big and strong and grizzly so his playing develops. Every night a crowd of bears gathers to listen to the wonderful sound.
A girl and her father discover bear and tell him about the city where, ‘You can play grand pianos in front of hundreds of people and hear sounds so beautiful they will make your fur stand on end.’
Bear wants to explore the world and to play better so he leaves. In the city he is a huge success and becomes famous. Something tugs at his heart. He misses his friends and his home. But will his friends have forgotten him? Or are they angry with him for leaving them behind?
This is David Litchfield’s first picture book and I’m pretty sure it won’t be his last. The artwork is a delight. Each page is infused with light. Bear is a gentle creature who is transformed by his creativity and talent. I loved the slightly muted colour palate that fills the story with atmosphere and warmth.
The moment when bear realises that he has not been forgotten is really moving; ‘the bear realised that no matter where he went, or what he did, they would always be there, watching from afar.’
ISBN 978-1-84780-718-2 published by Francis Lincoln
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