Ever seen a koala just wake up? Far from the cute and cuddly bear we imagine koalas are quite grumpy, and Jackie French’s koala in Koala Bare is true to form. And please do not call him a BEAR.
From the beautiful, tactile cover to the last page this book shows why Jackie French is such a successful writer of children’s book. Koala is very grumpy. He is not a BEAR, and he is out to show you why he is not like all those other silly bears. In fact he wants to prove that he is just himself.
The story is told in rhyme, which is great for parents reading to children. Matt’s Shanks illustrations manage to be both soft, as befitting a book about bears and koalas, but at the same time reflect koala’s anger. In fact looking through the illustrations in this book is one of the true treasures of reading it. However what I liked most was the message in the book. Children listening may not get it, but I loved that the koala did not want to be categorised, he just wanted to be himself. In this day and age where advertising is turning our young ones into kiddie clones I love that this book is saying it is all right to be you and be different.
I road tested the book on twin two year olds and a newly minted school starter. They all listened to the end, but it was the five year old who was most taken with the book. He loved the koala and how grumpy he was and how he just wanted to be left alone in his tree. He then went back and looked through all of the pictures, picking out scenes from stories and pointing out all the damage koala was doing. In the end though he enjoyed the story and the pictures, he just loved touching the koala on the cover.
All in all a great picture book for all younger children, but really appreciated by those just heading out into the world themselves and this mum.