I am so honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for The Bear and Her Book by Frances Tosdevin and Sophia O’Connor. I have some of Sophia’s absolutely incredible early sketches to share with you.
This gorgeous rhyming picture book features a book-loving bear who sets off to see the world. She takes one special thing with her: Bear’s Big Book of Being Wise which she carries around her neck.
My daughter was instantly invested in Bear’s and her journey. She loved Frances’ rhyming refrain and by our third read of the book was saying it along with me.
Sophia has nailed Bear’s curious nature and it’s fascinating to see how the character developed in these early sketches.
Right from the start, my daughter was most curious about what Bear’s Big Book of Being Wise said and luckily we didn’t have to wait long to find out. As Bear begins to travel to different parts of the world, she meets animals in need of her help. And luckily Bear’s Big Book of Being Wise has the answer! We absolutely loved the fact that Frances has woven the book page numbers into her rhyme and the cures for the creatures were brilliant.
This wise book not only helps Bear cure the animals, but also helps her make friends. But still, something is calling to her – she hasn’t found the place she is meant to be. She carries on her journey. Our favourite adventure was when she went to the jungle and made friends with a crocodile. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed an illustration as much as the sight of a bear travelling down the stream on the back of a crocodile!
We also really loved the interplay between the words and the illustrations. After Bear reads the cure in her book there is a stunning wordless page with four vignettes that show Bear searching for the fruit of the Sneeze-stop tree.
So, you can imagine how delighted I was when quite by chance it was this section of the book that Sophia sent me sketches off. It’s amazing to see how she brought these spreads to life. Here is an early thumbnail and development roughs.
So the question remains – did Bear find the place she was searching for? Well, as you know, I never give spoilers. All I’ll say is that you really want to buy this book to find out because the ending is perfect! My daughter actually cheered! The Bear and Her Book is a beautiful rhyming picture book about self-discovery, friendship and belonging. The gentle phrasing and soft colour palette give the book a magical quality that makes you believe Bear really is out there somewhere in the world. I shall leave you with two incredible images of how Sophia created the wonderful texture of the illustrations.
Published by UCLan Publishing, 7 October 2021
About the author
Frances Tosdevin has always loved reading children’s books and is delighted to be writing them as well! She studied Archaeology, Anthropology and Classics at the University of Cambridge, and has worked in journalism and as a teacher of English as a Second Language. Her interests include children’s literature, theatre and plants.
About the illustrator
Sophia O’Connor is an illustrator based in Cornwall creating hand drawn illustrations. Her portfolio spans narrative, decorative and reportage illustration. The materials she works with are predominantly pen & ink as well as other mixed media, combining intricate mark making with looser tonal brush strokes.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!
Thank you so much to Sophia O’Connor for providing early sketches for me to incorporate into the post. I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary review contains my honest opinion.