If you go down in the woods today,
you’re sure of a big surprise…
We love having a teddy bear’s picnic. It’s something I’ve loved doing with Little Man since he was a toddler. We’d get out the tea set, invite our favourite stuffies along for tea, read a book and have some good ‘mum & son’ time. It was also a good way to get the conversation going as my little dude rarely spoke much about his day or how he was feeling so it was always nice to hear him opening up over some tea. 🙂 Now, we share this experience with his little sister and this week, we took our teddy bear’s picnic onto the balcony with our stuffies and their cousin, Lils.
It became the perfect opportunity for us to enjoy our new children’s picture book, The Rug Bear.
The Rug Bear book by Emma Rattray
This sweet and charming children’s story is about a bear who plays a game of hide and seek with his friends, Lion and Fox. But after all that fun and playing with his friends, Bear started to get very tired from all the fun and decides to take a nap beside a tree. As Bear sleeps deeply, along passes a mouse then a hare, then a squirrel and then a ladybird. All of them mistaken Bear for a comfy rug to rest upon from their long travels. As they all start to settle down, Bear wakes up and gives them all a fright as they tumble off his back. The gentle bear reassures them that he is actually a friendly bear and didn’t mean to scare them.
“Oh dear”, said Bear.
“Did I give you a fright?
I might be a bear but I really don’t bite.”
Bedtime with Bear and his friends…
A couple days after we read The Rug Bear book at our teddy bear picnic, we read it as a bedtime story. The kids were so excited to read it again that they didn’t want to go to bed without it. First, I read it to Little Miss and then she told the story back to me in her own way using the pictures in the book. As she can’t read yet I encourage her to tell the story this way so she can get the gist of the story as well as pick up on the main themes and concepts around what the story is about.
Then Little Man read the story to me (yes, I get to have a bedtime story too!) and he read it so beautifully. I saw the little smile on his face when he finished reading and asked him if he liked the story, he said yes. I asked him to tell me what he thought about the story and why, to which he replied, “I thought it was caring and funny – caring because all the animals were caring towards Bear, and funny because they thought Bear was a rug!” 🙂 I also asked Little Miss what she thought about the story and she mentioned that bears love eating honey.
The illustrations by Michael Terry are beautiful. The vibrant coloured pages are enough to attract the attention span of toddlers and pre-schoolers, whilst the detailed drawings are realistic enough for older kids to relate with and enjoy. The reading language is simple enough for primary school-aged children to understand and read aloud, which it would also make a great home-schooling reading resource, as well as a bedtime story.
Even though the book is aimed at kids aged 0-5 years, I think it has potential to appeal to all ages, both big and small especially when it comes to bedtime stories. My son really loves it and he is seven!
We will be reading this book for the next few nights as part of our bedtime routine as the kids really enjoy it. It’s also made it onto our bedtime story shelf so we will definitely revisit it again in the near future. Perhaps, we might even try reading the story through just the pictures like Little Miss did and tell our own versions of the story.
Q&A time with Emma Rattray
I had the lucky opportunity to interview The Rug Bear author, Emma Rattray about her inspirations behind the book, tips for parents on encouraging outdoor play, and what she’s up to next in her writing career…
Q. What inspired you to write The Rug Bear?
A. I don’t know where the idea for The Rug Bear came from, I hadn’t visited a zoo or anything like that! I had been working on something else which really wasn’t going anywhere when the idea of a bear falling asleep in a wood and being mistaken for a rug suddenly came into my head.
Q. You grew up enjoying the outdoors a lot – climbing trees, swimming in rivers, playing with white rabbits. How do you think parents can encourage their children to play more outdoors?
A. It’s not always easy for parents to encourage their children to play outside. Pets are a good idea but not everybody has a garden or outside area. There are parks though and most children like picnics: teddy bear picnics for young children and for older ones a picnic with small prizes, or points/praise for finding things in the park. Once there, children may find other games to play.
Reading books, that are set outside and involve animals, birds, flowers and trees, promote a relationship with the natural world and hopefully make children want to embrace it.
Q. The Rug Bear is your first book, will you be writing more stories about Bear’s adventures? What other ideas do you have in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
A. My next book is about a little boy called Johnny who goes to Treasure Island, but maybe Bear with all his friends might meet again in the pages of another book!
Definitely sounds like we are in for a treat with Emma’s next book lined up and some fantastic ideas on how to encourage outdoor play with children. We love a good nature/park scavenger hunt and it’s something I plan on doing regularly. I’ve never thought about the prizes element so that’s added onto my list now too. The Rug Bear is available in paperback and as an e-book at all good bookshops and online retailers including Blackwell’s, Wordery, Waterstones, and Amazon UK (also available on Kindle).
About Emma Rattray
Born and brought up in rural Scotland and the west coast of Ireland, as a child Emma spent a lot of time playing outdoors. Fast forward a few years, she became a journalist-turned-features writer for Tatler magazine.
She now lives in Perthshire with ehr husband and children. The Rug Bear is her first debut children’s picture book.
NB. We were kindly gifted The Rug Bear book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All words, photos and content are my own and should not be reused without permission. The book cover and author’s photo are credited to Cameron PM respectively.