Rain aside, I’m seriously digging winter right now. It’s finally starting to get cold! The sparkly days such as we had on Thursday, with a proper nip in the air and that cold, clear light are for spending time out in it, and then retreating from to a warm house and the prospect of candle (and fire!) light come late afternoon.
This, and Christmas round the corner, makes it seem just the right time for a review – and GIVEAWAY – of three copies of ‘Bear Hug‘, by Katharine McEwen, a beautiful, beautiful book about seasons and the circle of life.
For the sake of transparency, I will add that Katharine (or Kate, as she is known outside of her cover name) is one of mine and my husband’s best friends (we met at her wedding!) and guardian of my boys. I am very proud to have such a book be given to us with a personal message to my children on the inside cover – and very proud to share it with you!
Published by Templar in September, and already available in paperback, you can tell from the end papers alone, that ‘Bear Hug’ is a true labour of love. Every element has been drawn, painted and cut out by hand, before being constructed as a richly considered collage. The process is painstaking, and took Kate six months to create, with each spread taking on average three days. None of it went anywhere near a computer until Kate packed it all up and send it in to the publisher for scanning.
The result is that the bears’ fur has a touch quality to it, the snowflakes trail delicately across the pages, and nature’s landscapes, with their cross-hatching, layers and softness, are a total – and tonal – treat for the eye.
The story begins in the season of snow, with a bear making ready for hibernation. He has learnt from his mother and father how to catch and eat enough fish, and how to make his bed ready for his great sleep. While he’s doing this, he meets another bear, and they retreat together to the cave, their noses sweetly touching.
When they emerge, the colours Kate uses suggest spring. There are buds and greenery and the birds are singing long, curling, colourful tunes – vividly depicted as looping ribbons that burst forth from their beaks.
And soon the bears are not alone. They teach their own little cub to do all the things that bears should do – just as their own mothers and fathers did. Together they take honey from the trees, and gather leaves and bracken for their bed.
Then, as the year unfolds, Kate’s snowflake-discs again start to ‘twirl and tumble’ across the pages. The three retreat together to the cave.
My children are in love with this book. Never mind that it is written and illustrated by someone meaningful and important to them, when I read it to them the language leads my voice into a natural graduation towards softness and slowness: ‘shudder-cold night’, ‘lollopy-lumber’, ‘soft as thistledown’, ‘lively as a sunbeam’.
The name – ‘Bear Hug’ – is perfect for the book. Because when we start to read it, my own little cubs subconsciously nestle closer to me. They move onto my lap, curl into my body, and lift my arms up and around them.
Being as much for giving as winter arrives as for when spring or summer or autumn are upon us, ‘Bear Hug’ heralds the wonderful rhythms that the natural world passes through every year as it falls asleep – and then chirrups awake.
READER COMPETITION + GIVEAWAY
This is a social media competition in which THREE copies are being given away. To enter to be one of the lucky winners of ‘Bear Hug’ just:
- Share this post on Facebook (yes, you may do that despite how I feel about it! But if you do, please let me know in the comments section below so that I can register your entry)
- Share the post on Twitter, following @LittleLewes if you don’t already, as well as @katharinemcwewen – all while tagging with #BearHug
- Share the post on Instagram – take a picture of your screen, or a screen grab from your phone, follow littlelewes and katharinemcewen, and hashtag #BearHug
- Share the post on Google+ (again, please let me know in comments, as I am not yet on Google+ – I am most certainly not a luddite, but could someone please explain it to me!)
- Comment on this post in the section below, making sure to put your email address in the indicated field so I can reach you. If you subscribe to receive Little Lewes post notifications, extra credit again… *smiley winky face*
The competition/giveaway will run for just under a week, closing next Friday the 28th of November at midday. If you’re doing the book advent calendar you should get it for the beginning of December to include you in your 24 (or 25). Get sharing!
‘BEAR HUG’ DETAILS
The book retails at £11.99 for hardback and £6.99 for paperback.
It can be found at Bags of Books, who have a good stock of the book. If they’re out of them, Bags of Books can order ‘Bear Hug’ in for next day or two-day delivery at no charge. ‘Bear Hug’ can also be ordered from Hive.co.uk as a hardback or paperback – if you order through Hive, you can have your books delivered in to Bags of Books at no charge.
The book makes a fantastic present for new parents, and is a wonderful Christmas book. Being about seasons, I’m also told by my younger son’s nursery that it’s also a great book to donate to nurseries or school libraries.
KATHARINE MCEWEN DETAILS
Good luck in the competition!
Disclosure: I approached Templar about reviewing ‘Bear Hug’ after Katharine McEwen gave my boys a copy of the book just before it was published. I knew that Little Lewes’s readers would like it, and asked Templar if they would agree to give away three hardback copies. I have also cited Bags of Books as a place to buy the book in Lewes because I’m their biggest fan – I encourage you to buy the book there. Any links to Hive.co.uk are affiliate links and purchases made via these links will result in a small commission being paid to me (at no cost to the customer). No compensation, financial or otherwise has been offered or accepted for the writing of this post.
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