“I am Bear. And I am bare. The suit I wear has purple hair.”
So begins I Am Bear, a short story aimed very much at the pre-school crowd. It is also the debut publication for Ben Bailey Smith, an actor and rapper – in the latter guise he usually goes by the name ‘Doc Brown’. Sav Akyüz is also making his debut illustration appearance here – his bold and colourful images bring Bear to life beautifully. What’s most notable is that Bear’s ‘suit’ is a bright purple onesie, and before putting it on he is shown to be completely bald without it. The artwork, the snappy rap-style rhyme scheme and the healthy dose of clever wordplay more than make up for the admittedly thin plot.
Bear leads us through his day as he tricks a squirrel into becoming his lunch, steals doughnuts from policemen and paints a target on the bum of an unsuspecting female bear wearing a corresponding pink suit. Looking simultaneously cuddly and rebellious, Bear is certainly a memorable protagonist, and his fresh and highly amusing story will definitely appeal to young children with its short and sweet rhyming narration.
To top things off, the book also has a free accompanying animation on its website, with narration provided by the author. The work is a promising debut from both a new writer and illustrator, and Bear looks set to become an iconic character in modern children’s literature.
All images courtesy of Walker Books, who have published I Am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyüz.
I Am Bear, published by Walker Books, is out now.