Review: Grizzly Ben

Ben loves grizzly bears, so of course he wants a live one for his birthday. When he is given a cuddly toy bear instead, his disappointment turns to something more…grizzly.  

Ben is determined to teach Cuddly how to be a proper wild bear, from eating honey to catching fish and climbing trees. When none of these skills come naturally to a teddy designed for delivering hugs, Ben gets so cross that he begins to take on bear-like qualities himself.  

Ben’s transformation from boy to bear is a wonderfully relatable representation of a child’s frustration and we enjoyed his messy journey discovering the difference between what he wants, and what he needs. Grizzly Ben experiences adventure and drama, but ultimately finds comfort where he least expected it.

This picture book is filled with lovely, read-out-loud language (the grizzly bears in Ben’s room “CLOMPED across his bedroom walls and STOMPED up his curtains and ROMPED in his books.”) and the pictures are bursting with colour and energy. We relished watching Ben’s changes gradually take place, from nose, ears and eyebrows, to the full sharp-clawed, bad-tempered beast!

Keep an eye out for the dog and the cat, who while not mentioned in the text, are never far from the action – getting stuck in a birthday box, covered in honey and sticking close to Ben in the darkest moments. Small details perhaps, but their sense of fun encapsulate the spirit of this book, and how effectively all the elements work together with the delight of its young audience in mind.   

Grizzly Ben, by Alan Dapré and Alex Ayliffe (Little Door)

  • This review is part of the April 2023 blog tour to launch Grizzly Ben. To find out more and read other bloggers’ reviews, find @littledoorbooks on twitter.

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