Old Bear by Jane Hissey

Sharing stories with my children is one of the most joyous parts of being a parent but this is made even more special when I am sharing stories that I loved as a child. Old Bear is one of my all time favourite books and one that I was so excited to read with my boys. Written and illustrated by Jane Hissey it was the first book of the Old Bear stories published by Scribblers.

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The story is set in a playroom, home to a friendly group of toys. One of the toys, Bramwell Brown, remembers that a long time ago his friend Old Bear was put up in the attic as the children were too young to be careful with him and that is where he had stayed. He thinks it’s time he came home.

With the help of the other toys they start to think of ways to get Old Bear back to the playroom. After a few failed but rather funny attempts the toys finally manage it and Old Bear is back where he belongs, with his friends.

The story is illustrated beautifully by Jane Hissey who draws all her pictures using real toys as models. Each toy has been brought to life and given its own personality with level headed Bramwell Brown, excitable Duck, energetic Rabbit, plucky Little Bear and faithful Old Bear.

As a child I would spend ages staring at these fabulous illustrations as I couldn’t believe they were drawings. I remember being amazed at the light reflecting off the leather patches on Bramwell’s paws. Every stitch, every tuft of fur is drawn to absolute perfection.

There is a lovely illustration in the middle of the story when Little Bear reaches the attic, the drawing fills the whole page and there is no text. Old Bear is covered in cobwebs sitting amongst all the boxes and forgotten things in the attic and Little Bear is looking back down to the playroom where he can see his friends eagerly waiting for them all to be reunited.

The Old Bear stories are simply charming and with wonderfully sentimental illustrations it is no wonder they are still enjoyed by children today. Old Bear is now 30 years old and to celebrate, Jane Hissey has written a new book – Happy Birthday Old Bear (you can read our review here).

Bears and cuddly toys are one of my four year old’s favourite things at the moment so we recently took a trip to Newby Hall where Gyles Brandreth’s collection of bears are housed in The Bear House. There are about 1000 teddies here including the original Paddington, Fozzie Bear and Superted. The bears are displayed in lots of different scenes, we loved this teddy bears picnic…

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While Old Bear is not part of this collection (I believe he still lives with Jane Hissey) we did find a rather old bear here; 105 years old to be precise!

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I don’t have any particularly old bears but I do have my old copy of Old Bear which is still looking pretty good for almost 30!

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You can find out more about Jane Hissey’s work on her lovely website here.

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