I am delighted to be featuring The Bear and the Piano trilogy written and illustrated by the phenomenal, David Litchfield.
The Bear and the Piano took the world by storm in 2016, winning the Waterstones Children’s book of the Year. David’s illustrations are spectacular and there is something so captivating about the idea of a bear cub finding a piano in the heart of the forest. We follow the journey of the young cub as he becomes a famous piano player.
The second story, The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle, centres around retiring fiddle player Hector and his dog Hugo. Their friendship is tested when Hugo is offered the chance to join – the now very famous – bear’s band on tour.
In the last chapter of bear’s musical adventure, The Bear, the Piano, and Little Bear’s Concert, Bear’s best concert days are behind him and he is now a father. The first spread in this final book is a glorious reminder of the two previous books, and so it felt like a fitting to kick off this feature post.
But before we dive into book three, here is a sneak peak inside the first two books if you haven’t had a chance to read them yet…
The Bear and the Piano
When a bear cub stumbles across a piano in the middle of the forest, he comes back to it everyday and teaches himself how to play. One day, a father and son are visiting the woods. They hear the bear playing and it is the start of bear’s incredible journey to stardom in New York.
The bear loves performing to sold-out venues but he misses the friends he left behind. He eventually returns home, but will his friends have forgotten all about him? My little girl and I adore this book. It is a heart-warming story of finding what you love to do, and cherishing those that love and support you.
The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle
In New Orleans, we meet two good friends, a retiring fiddle player called Hugo, who never got a chance to achieve his dream of playing on the big stage, and his dog, Hector. They’ve survived life’s ups and downs together, but now that Hugo has put away his fiddle, life has become mundane. Until, one night he hears Hector playing his fiddle on the roof, and so does everyone else…
Hugo feels jealous when Hector gets the chance to play with Bear and his band of animal musicians (of course our bear had to make an appearance!). Can Hector get past his own disappointment in order to be happy for his friend? This second book in the trilogy could in fact be read as a standalone book and has a lovely message about supporting our friends, forgiveness and trust.
The Bear, the Piano, and Little Bear’s Concert
In this final instalment of the trilogy, we see Bear coming to the end of his musical career and his priorities have changed: bear is now a father. But can little bear remind her dad how much his piano-playing days touched the lives of so many?
Having found the piano in the forest all those years ago as a young bear cub, and achieving fame in New York, bear faced the reality of so many creatives – the crowds slowly dwindling.
But little bears arrival takes away much of that sorrow. I think many parents will find themselves relating to that feeling. And I love this beautiful spread of father and daughter playing together.
The star of this third book is definitely little bear. And when she stumbles across her father’s piano, she refuses to believe that no one wants to hear his music anymore. So she comes up with a plan to get the whole band back together!
As much as I would love to read dozens of bear and little bear books, I have to say, this felt like the perfect way to end bear’s story. The trilogy has come full circle. From the little bear cub who found the piano in the forest, finding stardom and his music dreams coming true, to his own baby cub reconnecting him with his music years later. David’s illustrations are as gorgeous as ever. My little girl loved pointing out all the details that link the three books together, like Hugo returning to visit bear. This is a truly stunning trilogy of picture books that showcase the joys of music, friendship and family.
Publisher: Quarto, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Publication date: 1 September 2020
I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of The Bear, the Piano, and Little Bear’s Concert. This voluntary review contains my honest opinion.