Little Bear and the Silver Star published by Scribblers is the latest picture book from the creator of the Old Bear Stories, Jane Hissey, and her first Christmas story.
It’s Christmas Eve and the toys in the playroom are busy decorating the Christmas tree when Little Bear realises the star for the top of the tree is missing. As it’s getting late, the other toys reasssure him that they will find something special for the tree in the morning.
But when Little Bear wakes up in the middle of the night he decides to go searching for the star to surprise everyone and ends up having a bigger adventure than he bargained for.
To celebrate the publication of this book this post is part of a special blog tour and we’re thrilled to welcome Jane to the blog to share her memories of the magic of Christmas that have influenced this book.
I have wanted to write and illustrate a Christmas book for many years. Some time ago I wrote and illustrated Jolly Snow, which is a winter book and therefore, I felt, had a longer shelf life than one purely about Christmas.
Finally, however, I decided that, because of all the wonderful things I would be able to put into my illustrations, I would really enjoy taking on a Christmas project. So, for the last year, and right through lockdown, I have been working on Little Bear and the Silver Star.
I clearly remember the magic of Christmases when I was a child. Our Christmas celebrations were simple and rural. We always had a real tree and decorated it just before Christmas with lots of handed-down decorations and many we had made ourselves. When a tree seemed too expensive one year, I remember we made a ‘tree’ by tying two rather flat yew branches together at right angles to each other! It looked pretty convincing when it was decorated!
Living in Norfolk it often seemed that our Christmases were cold and frosty and we would huddle round the fire playing board games and eating. There always seemed to be plenty of food and the preparation of the food was very much part of the fun of Christmas, with everyone taking part. We stirred the pudding mixture and made wishes, we picked chestnuts for the stuffing and dug up vegetables from the garden.
Our rural location really added to the magic of Christmas for me. If it snowed we would be cut off, as the snow in the lanes would be blown into deep drifts.
I remember waking on Christmas morning with frost on the inside of my bedroom windows, not braving the cold but creeping down to the end of the bed under the eiderdown to see whether Father Christmas had been and filled my pillowcase with rustling presents. There was always a tangerine at the bottom of the pillowcase and presents were simple (remember bath cubes and little round tins of toffees?). I always hoped to find a horse waiting outside for me but that didn’t happen, although I did get a fat white mouse one Christmas (and Monty had six baby mice on Boxing Day and changed his name to Mimi!)
My Christmas story was originally written for a twenty-minute television animation. I included as much of my remembered Christmas magic as I could. I completely re-wrote the story for my picture book as it had to be so much shorter. I wanted it to be filled with fun and adventure but also to include all the emotions we might feel throughout Christmas, with Little Bear experiencing them all. He is excited when decorating the tree and disappointed when something is missing. He is anxious when setting off on his adventure, shocked when he ends up needing rescuing and happy when he is found in the snow. He feels a bit sad when he thinks he has failed in his mission but overjoyed when he finds that he hasn’t.
When I am drawing the toys I rarely change their expressions and often use their body language to show how they are feeling. However in Little Bear and the Silver Star I allow Little Bear’s mouth to indicate tiny changes in his expression; a straightening of the line of his mouth to show anxiety or sadness, a shortening for surprise or shock and a big upturn for a smiling, happy face. It’s a story with a very happy ending, as all Christmas stories should have!
Thank you Jane, your childhood Christmases certainly sound wonderful. For lots more brilliant, behind the book content be sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending a copy of this book for review.
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