Today we welcome children’s author Frances Tosdevin into The Reading Realm to talk to Ian Eagleton about her brand-new book, the lyrical and enchanting The Bear and Her Book: There’s More To See, which is illustrated by Sophia O’Connor and published by UCLan!
Without giving too much away, can you tell us about your new book?
In this story, the bear gets itchy paws and sets off again with her beloved book, but this time she is on a mission to meet the strange bear she has seen in her book — a bear she is sure is very different from her…
Can you tell us three things which inspired this story?
After the first book — THE BEAR AND HER BOOK — was published, I had a very strong feeling that our bear — although happy in her bookshop home — was getting restless. And in quiet moments while I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, she whispered to me that she wanted to go on a new adventure. I hadn’t got the heart to say no — so I wrote down all her ideas, did a great deal of thinking, and then started to compose her story. The words came quite quickly, because all the heavy lifting had been done by the time I sat down to write.
The second inspiration was, of course, that I couldn’t wait to see what my brilliant illustrator, Sophia O’Connor could do with a new cast of characters! Sophia is absolutely wonderful at naturalistic animals and I was so excited to find new creatures for her to paint. Plus, I’d had a sneaky peak at her portfolio — so I knew she was especially brilliant at polar bears!
The final inspiration was that I have a soft spot for the Northern Lights— and I was desperate to write a story that included them!
Share with us your favourite illustration and explain why it’s your favourite!
How hard to choose a favourite! But I think my favourite is the double page spread of the humpback whale, with the bear sitting on an ice floe next to her, looking awfully small beside her. I love this spread SO much — the watery colours, the sheer scale of the whale, with the bear (who is a big beast herself) dwarfed in comparison.
Can you recommend a local bookshop for us to buy your book from?
That would have to be the lovely Next Page Books in Hitchin!
You can find them here on https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/thenextpage!
Finally, can you tell us what you hope young readers will take from the book?
Always be curious and kind — especially to those you perceive as different — because you might have more in common than you think!