One day in the forest a young bear cub finds a mysterious object. It is a piano. At first it makes an awful noise but 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 this new world and to play better, so he leaves. In the city he is a huge success and very quickly becomes famous. However, despite his fame and fortune, something always tugs at his heart. He misses his friends and his home in the forest. But will his friends have forgotten him? Or are they angry with him for leaving them behind?
This is an enchanting picture book about the love to music and enduring friendship.
You could use the pictures in this book to do a lot of predicting. This book also invites you get children to do some creative writing. You could ask the pupils to write news reports, imagining they had witnessed the bear the night before.
(Music suggestions to play to inspire the children – River Flows In You by Yiruma, Comptine d’un auto été, l’après-midi from Amelie, or you could play the entirety of The Pianist soundtrack during their writing. However be warned of the later as it may set the tone of being quite a sad piece of work.
This would be a great book to explore the themes of friendships.
You could look at retelling the whole (or parts) of the story using music and soundscapes. The children could work in groups to create scenes from the book and when you read the book out they create a soundtrack to your reading.
Look at artist such as David Litchfield, Jon Klassen or Shaun Tan and get the pupils to use these artist to inspire them to create there own landscapes. Don’t forget to ask the children to explore and compare their art work to those of other artists…. part of the curriculum)
Review by Stefan Pearmain