Have you ever simply sat with your child/children and watched as the stars come out in the night sky? Children love to count them and watch for the chance of a falling star…

A bear and a tree begins when bear finds a little girl crying because her favourite tree has lost its leaves for winter. Even though bear is due for his “big sleep” of hibernation, he puts that extra bit of effort in and takes one more day to reassure and just be with the little girl. And what precious time it proves to be as they sit, play, dance and wonder.

The story intersperses active play with periods of rest and waiting, and offers hope and the expectation of more to come. The author has seen the beautiful and appealing aspects of winter such as winter stars, making shapes from fallen twigs, and snow swirling before it falls to the ground, and turns them into a story that offers reassurance for children. Sometimes between all the action and energy, children just like their parents to sit and wonder with them, to be with them and “make everything better.”

The writing blends child-like perspectives, with the little girl character asking questions about the snow and the stars. The story steers to a natural close as together the girl and bear realise how tired bear is: “…big yawns of tiredness had snuck back inside.” But before he is pictured going to sleep in his snug, cosy hideout in the snow, his final act is to give some leaves he has gathered for his winter bed to the little girl, placing them back on the tree. Illustrations are reminiscent of Leunig, especially the curly, magical looking tree which looks like it has been plucked straight from Enid Blyton’s The Magical Faraway Tree Stories.

This book is available at fishpond.com.

A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time mother of two.