The bears are back! We had Yogi Bear return in 2010 and if anyone didn’t notice Paddington starring on the big screen this year, they must have been going round with their eyes shut! However, did you know that Winnie the Pooh is getting an update too? I’m enjoying all these bear revivals as the influence they had on my love of reading through childhood is unquestionable. I remember back in 1977, insisting my dad made me a Paddington Bear hat to wear to the Queen’s silver jubilee street celebrations. Of course no other hat would do for that special occasion!
Following Return to the Hundred Acre Wood being released in 2009, Egmont Publishing has now announced their plans for a further anthology of Pooh Bear’s adventures due out in October 2016. The first sequel was written (by David Benedictus), illustrated (by Mark Burgess) and executed with true respect for the original stories by A. A. Milne (illustrated by E. H. Shepard). It will be ninety years next year since Pooh Bear was first published yet even in his early days he was the wisest bear around! Unlike some classics he doesn’t seem to date and his appeal lies in his love of the simple things in life. In anticipation of the anniversary, the four chosen authors for the follow-up are yet to be announced but Mark Burgess will remain the illustrator (or should I say portrait artist for such a famous bear).
Of course being the huge star he is, we’ve already seen a number of feature length films emerge from Disney but plans are also underway for a new live action movie version based on the Christopher Robin books aimed at adult fans like me!
Rat Pac Entertainment have also acquired the rights to Lindsay Mattick (author) and Sophie Blackall’s (illustrator) picture book Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear due to be published (by Little, Brown) in October this year. So it looks like we’re in for some exciting times with our honey loving bear.
So why do we love bears so much? After all bears are pretty ferocious creatures in real life. But bears are rarely portrayed as such in children’s books and most of our children share their beds with these cuddly characters! Why are bears usually the good guys and not wolves for example? We have President Roosevelt to thank for that and his refusal to shoot a captured bear (the history of the teddy bear). Ever since, we’ve seen a number of adorable bears come out of the woods. With Winnie the Pooh I think we admire his relaxed take on life. With Paddington we can’t help but laugh at his comical situations and as for Yogi Bear, he is well meaning after all, be it in a haphazard kind of way. It seems we love them for being blundering great big huggable bears – but I still don’t think I’ll be attempting a hug if one ever comes lumbering towards me!