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Book Details

The Bear and the Piano The Bear and the Piano
David Litchfield

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Childrens Books
ISBN: 9781847807182
Published: 02/03/2016
Price: £6.99

One day, a young bear stumbles upon something he has never seen before in the forest. As time passes, he teaches himself how to play the strange instrument, and eventually the beautiful sounds are heard by a father and son who are picnicking in the woods. The bear goes with them on an incredible journey to New York, where his piano playing makes him a huge star. He has fame, fortune and all the music in the world, but he misses the friends and family he has left behind. A moving tale of exploration and belonging from an exciting debut author-illustrator.

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This beautifully illustrated debut story - now available in paperback - is charmingly magical; it has also just won a Waterstones Book Prize award. In it, the reader is transported into an enchanting world from the moment Bear finds a "strange thing" in the woods and it makes an "awful sound". The strange thing is a piano and I love the fact that where it came from or why its sat in a clearing is never explained or questioned - its classic picturebook magic encourages readers' imaginations to go wild. After much practice, Bear becomes an accomplished pianist and gives popular recitals to the other bears and inhabitants of the woods. This is until a little girl and her dad hear him and, suitably impressed, arrange for him to perform in New York to packed grand theatres. After becoming a runaway success, he feels homesick and soon his longing for home gets too much, so he returns to the woods but his old piano and his bear community are not there. Worried that they are annoyed with him for leaving, he is despondent. However, he soon finds his old friends have not forgotten about him but in fact have followed all of his successes and even kept his piano safe for his return. The way Litchfield has created a sense of environment, and the light and atmosphere that imbue his illustrations, are breathtaking, specifically those images of inside the theatre and the cityscape. The dual messages of how success comes only with hard work and perseverance is subtly implied and the importance of home as well as having adventures further afield is evocatively captured. I think this is a lovely addition to the picturebook box and will prove to be a popular read. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Natalie Plimmer
Natalie Plimmer

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