BLOG TOUR: Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar

Can Bears Ski?: a gorgeous look at a little bear and his hearing

Is Little Bear ignoring his friends when they say hi, or is something else going on? A discovery opens new doors in a tale for kids with deafness and all children learning to navigate their world. Little Bear feels the world around him. He feels his bed rumble when Dad Bear wakes him up in the morning. He feels the floor shake when his teacher stomps to get his attention. But something else is missing, like when his friends tell jokes that he isn’t sure he understands, or when all around him Little Bear hears the question, “Can bears ski?” Then, one day, Dad Bear takes him to see an “aud-i-olo-gist,” and Little Bear learns that he has been experiencing deafness and will start wearing hearing aids. Soon he figures out what that puzzling refrain is: “Can you hear me?” Little Bear’s new world is LOUD and will take some getting used to, but with the love and support of Dad Bear, he will find his way.”

Can Bears Ski? follows Little Bear on his journey to discovering his deafness and how he sees the world around him. We see that Little Bear feels the world around him and doesn’t hear the world the way the world is – which makes him different. We learn how Little Bear ‘hears’ the world through the different vibrations (in his house, outside and in his classroom). When Dad Bear realises that there may be something going on with Little Bear’s hearing, he takes him to an audiologist to have his ears checked out. We then experience Little Bear’s successes and struggles with his hearing aids… and the ultimate victory at the end!

This is a gorgeous picture book that will speak to those who face hearing issues. This book is perfect for teachers and children alike as it shows something we don’t see a lot – books featuring characters who are hard of hearing. This book features some wonderful terminology (audiogram/audiologist) that would be great to use when talking to children. This book could open so many doors and conversations, giving children the space to feel comfortable talking about the issues dealt with in this book.

When I initially received this book, I was a little bit confused by the title (and wondered what that had to do with Little Bear and his hearing), but as you go through the story you see what it’s actually meant to mean! Young readers will enjoy figuring out what the title “Can Bears Ski?” is supposed to mean.

The illustrations by Polly Dunbar are wonderful: vibrant and bold in places (when Little Bear talks about his clothes), but then muted and calm when Little Bear is all alone. I loved that you got the expressions of Little Bear as he FEELS all of these big emotions that come with going through his hearing aid journey.

Something that I really love about this story is that the author, Raymond, and the illustrator, Polly, bring first-hand experience of deafness to this book. You feel the frustration and the joy because they know what it feels like. It’s sincere and it’s real, and I think we need that in books!

This would be a wonderful book for helping kids better understand sensitive issues for those experiencing deafness – be it themselves or someone they know. There’s not many (not that I know of at least) books out there that deal with deafness (especially not for younger children) and I endorse more books like this thanks!

A massive thank you to Walker for sending me an amazing copy of this book and a print from the book too – it’s taking pride of place on my wall of bookishness! Check out the rest of this brilliant blog tour! It also came with the most adorable postcard with sign language letters on too!

S x

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