Something About a Bear.

Something about a bear_banner

I wrote Something About a Bear in a small house in a beautiful garden in Worcestershire, having thought about each page and the words and the bears for some time. But it began a long time before then. Years ago, when even though I had been one myself I had forgotten what children and had little or no interest in what they might or might not read.

At the time I worked as an illustrator, in a small flat in Bath, mostly designing cards and other things. One of the things I designed, in 1992, was a calendar for Greenpeace. It had bears on it.

Greenpeace bear calendar.

In November in 1992 I rediscovered children. My son Tom was born, and the week after I began to work on my first book for children. With my first book contract came an agent, and she took my work to Piccadilly Press, who saw the painting of the bears and came up with the idea to do a book about bears, called Bears, Bears and More Bears.

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By now I was pregnant with my second child, and I remember things getting very amusing as I tried to balance a drawing board on a round pregnant stomach as I continued trying to paint bears. Published in 1995, the book did well, but then went out of print, and the rights reverted to me.

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In the meantime I illustrated many a books, including How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes and Lord of the Forest by Caroline Pitcher. I had written a book. It didn’t have many words in it. I didn’t think of myself as an author, but despite that, and I am not sure how, I began to write.

I am Cat took on a similar form to Bears, Bears and More Bears. I talked with Frances Lincoln about my first author/illustrator books. It was out of print, rights reverted, had done well, and we talked a little of re illustrating the book, but then I looked at it and thought about it and decided that really it all needed to go back to the beginning and start again. There are 20 years in between the one bear book and the next. 20 years of learning, about writing, about painting, about looking. I read so many books to my poor children that they would often fall asleep as I read them yet another picture book. All the while I was learning, which books were favourites, which held attention, watching what was pulled from the bookcase, snuggled up in bed, stored beneath a pillow. Bed time reading to my children was work of the very best kind. ( I asked my accountant if my children could be tax deductable expenses as I used them so much during work time. He said no. Given MP’s expenses for work, ie duck houses, second homes, moat clearance, ’employing’ family members to work in their business etc I feel I should have pushed my case at the time.)

The sketch book pages pictured below show how my ways of working have changed in the 20 years.

Old sketchbook pages for Bears Bears and More Bears

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It is rare to get two bites of the same cherry, but that is what Something About a Bear is. A second bite.

Something About a Bear was published in Autumn 2014.

image for the cover

Always difficult working on covers. Above was the first attempt of 3. Below is art for finished cover. They type will be foiled.

Front cover of Something About a Bear

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Pages below show sketches developing composition for image of spectacled bear.

First sketch of mother bear in tree

 

Second sketch of spectacled bear with more thought put in.

 

playing with the curious bear in sketch

maryplane

swimming

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Small images of bear species rest and wait in a plan chest draw.

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Endpaper, showing the size of a bear. Here a child can put their hand over the bear’s paw and see just how big it is.

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So, let me tell you something, Something About a Bear.

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Here is a film of me talking more about the book, about bears and painting.

Kirkus Review for Something About a Bear:

KIRKUS REVIEW

With huge, richly detailed pictures (who knew watercolors could make so many different kinds of brown?) and a lucid and near-poetic text, Morris describes the lives and habitats of eight kinds of bear.

Baby pandas are “soft and small as peaches” when they are born. Spectacled bear mothers nurse their cubs in the cloud forest canopy. Polar bears are not white! (Their fur is hollow, and their skin is black.) She packs an amazing amount of information about bears into the text, and that is supplemented by notes on each animal and a handful of websites listed in the backmatter. Even the names of the bears make for evocative reading within the lyrical prose: brown bear, giant panda, sloth bear, spectacled bear, moon bear, polar bear, sun bear, American black bear (and yes, the American black bear comes in many colors, including white). Water, architecture, other plant and animal life, and various indicators of habitat are painted with energy and intensity. Even as she dazzles with the splendid, up-close images and information, Morris does not lose sight of the most important bear of all. Every child will recognize that one.

It is lovely to see natural history and a sense of eco-awareness combined with many children’s most beloved plaything. (Informational picture book. 4-9)

And now there are jigsaws from Wentworth’s jigsaws to go with the book.

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Jigsaws and signed copies of the book are available from Solva Woollen Mill.

If you spend any time on the internet looking at bears you soon discover that life isn’t easy for these magnificent wild creatures. From poaching to encroaching on bear space, to trophy hunting, to use of bears in Chinese medicine and bear bating and dancing bears, bears are facing some difficult problems. To find out more and see what you can do to help look at some of these charities, working with bears:

Hauser Bears. 

The Bornean Sunbear Conservation Centre 

Spectacled Bear Conservation Society Peru

Spirit Bear Adventures

22 Responses to Something About a Bear.

  1. Audrey Hetherington says:

    Lovely- looking forward to this one.

  2. Jenny Evans says:

    It’s always a pleasure to hear how your work evolves. Thank you so much for sharing. I adore bears and have since childhood, so the child in me cannot wait for Something about a bear. I just know it will be very special.

  3. Viv Young says:

    So pleased the book is coming soon – the children at school will be very excited when I tell them, they loved hearing you talk about this new book in October!

  4. Larry Sims says:

    Thank you so very much. One question, where will I be able to get this book?

    • Jackie says:

      When it is published you should be able to get it from your local library, bookshop, or if you want a signed copy you can buy online from Solva Woollen Mill. Local bookstores can order books in for you at any time. This one is not due for publication until autumn 2014, but you can get Icebear, and many others now.

  5. joy simpson says:

    We look forward to sharing your book with schools. We are a team of literacy advisers based in Devon and have recommended your books for a long time. Roll on the autumn!

  6. Karin says:

    Just… oh I can’t find the word… lovely doesn’t do it. Pfffuuu.
    Just pffffuuu.
    thank you for making me fall over so much. Can’t wait for a copy.

  7. Rio Burton says:

    Your work has been such a huge inspiration for me. Especially for a children’s book I have in the works. It’s so lovely to see how far your art and storytelling has come along. I can’t wait for autumn!

  8. Utterly wonderful. One of these magnificent creatures lives in the woods behind my husbands family’s home in Finland. So far we have only seen paw print and poo! Ah well will have to buy your book and dream of bears instead.

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  13. june pearson says:

    so…something about my bear. When I was very tiny I had a small pink bear….my terrier ate it and I was devastated…. We had very little money and I was without a bear and sad. I was without a bear for about 2 years.
    My wonderful Auntie Janie went with a friend on holiday to Ireland …she asked if there was anything in particular I would like her to bring back and of course I asked for a bear (never thinking I would get one because things like that never happened – did they?).
    She put a large parcel on my knee on her return …it growled and the most beautiful bear in the whole world appeared… he still is…. threadbear and lumpy. I love him still and now I make bears…..

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  17. philip salmon vaughan says:

    I love the proofs but for the life of me cannot see how to leave a bid, can you tell me where or how I do this? I need to see what has been bid so I can join in.
    Many thanks
    Philip Vaughan

    • Jackie says:

      If you click on the image you like then it opens and you can see the bids in the comments below each piece. Sorry, it’s a bit cumbersome, but doing my best to avoid confusion.
      Comments have to be authorized by me so won’t appear straight away.

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