The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland

For todays children’s book review, I thought I would review a story that has a prominent place in our home.  The Very Cranky Bear.  Over the last few years no book on our shelves has gathered as much attention.  In regular rotation for bed time stories, we read through it at least twice a month.  Most recently, Jenn surprised me with having the entire story memorized, leaving me to flip pages for the sprouts.

Honestly, my son, Zyler and I had never heard of this book before we met Jenn and her rambunctious baby girl, Alex.  The little one and a half year old couldn’t even talk yet, but she had me all figured out.  On the first day I met her she made sure I knew every toy inside her toy box, but then she brought me her favourite picture book. If there is any way to my heart, its books.  And, if there is any way to bond with me, its reading.  I read her The Very Cranky Bear probably 3 times that afternoon.  From that first day I knew Alex and I were going to be close and I have let Jenn know a few times, I fell in love with her daughter first.

On Alex’s fourth birthday we sat down to discuss her 5 favourite stories for the Green Onion Blog.  Of course, The Very Cranky Bear made the cut.  This is what she had to say back in June:

It’s scary!  The sheep is hiding out in d’a rain.  D’en the bear comes and he is angry and the sheep cuts all the hairs and makes a piwwow and the bear is his friend.  Yaaaaay!

That’s a pretty good synopsis right there.  But, I’ll get into more detail any ways.

The Very Cranky Bear was published in 2008.  Australian author Nick Bland is a self taught writer/illustrator.  Honing his talents by observing every picture book possible, Mr. Bland was an illustrator before his first solo publication in 2006, with, A Monster Wrote Me a Letter.  Since, ‘008 he has added many books to the bear series ranging from a hungry bear, to a brave bear.

Our story takes place in the Jingle Jangle Jungle on a cold, and rainy day.  Where a moose, a zebra, a lion, and a sheep needed somewhere warm to play.  Unfortunately, the cave they have chosen is previously occupied.  After waking up a bear from hibernation you would expect him to be a little grumpy.  The animals think that he is cranky for other reasons.  Each one tries to cheer him up in their own special way.  Moose thinks he need antlers, Zebra says he needs stripes, and Lion is certain a mane is what he’s missing.  Helping the bear cheer up, has an opposite effect.  But when a thoughtful sheep sacrifices half his wool for a soft pillow, the bear is much more comfy, and greatful.

The greatest part of this story is the cadence.  While reading out loud the rhythm comes out naturally.  Which is a difficult thing to achieve, as many writers know.  What children love is the heart and moral of this book.  As everyone is trying to fix the bears problems, one plain, but thoughtful sheep stops and listens to the bear and gives him what he needs.  Something all children can connect with, as they’re growing and still figuring out how to express their own wants and needs.

I have to give The Very Cranky Bear a solid 5 on behalf of my family.  It is a very sweet story.  A quick and easy read before bedtime that parents and children will love.  So, obviously I recommend this story for all of the little sprouts, great for children 0 to 5.  Hopefully The Very Cranky Bear finds a place in your home as valuable as it has ours.

Thanks booknerds, hope you all have a very non-cranky day.


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