A Bear Named Bjorn


Bjorn lives in the forest with friends including Rabbit, Fox, Weasel, Badger and Owl. Few humans other than Ramona know about Bjorn. She met him when a school bus brought the children on a school trip. Ramona gifted Bjorn a fork. ‘He knows exactly now to use it… It scratches better than the roughest bark on the roughest tree trunk’ Yet what gift can A Bear Name Bjorn give Ramona in return?

There are five stories in A Bear Named Bjorn. We meet the bear first when he’s the proud new owner of a plump, red sofa that ‘takes up the whole cave’. Thereafter, Bjorn and friends hold a Carnival where they dress up as humans, just like the catalogues that Bjorn enjoys reading.

One of Owl’s ideas is to hold ‘medical checkups.’ ‘He checks them for fleas. For dirty teeth. For good, strong breathing…. Then it’s time to check everyone’s vision.‘ What happens when Bjorn sees twelve apples on the tree rather than the nine that are there? It seems like he ‘didn’t see the trees on the hill. And was wrong about the caterpillar’. Glasses is the chapter in which Bear wonders if he’s as ‘short-sighted as a Mole?’

The stories in ‘A Bear Named Bjorn’ are fresh, appealing and addictive. They offer joy to readers of any age, although Bookwagon has sought out this title specifically for newer chapter book readers.


A Bear Named Bjorn

Delphine Perret, translated by Antony Sugaar

(Gecko Press)– hardback

When we meet A Bear Named Bjorn in his first story, it is as he learns that he’s ‘won a plump three-seater sofa, that will change his life.’ After the delivery truck has unloaded his sofa, Bjorn is visited first by Rabbit, Badger, Squirrel, Weasel and Fox. It seems like it is ‘quite the event. This new sofa’. While Rabbit thinks that Bjorn is lucky, ‘Bjorn isn’t sure.’ He finds the sofa too soft. Furthermore ‘it takes up the whole cave.‘ What will Bjorn do with his prize?
There are four other stories in this chapter book. In The Carnival, Bjorn and his friends take inspiration from the catalogues that Bjorn reads. What if they ‘dress up as humans’? They ‘need clothes, something to paint [their] eyes with, and thingamajigs to put in [their] hair.’ Where might they find these?
This French translation is unique and so appealing. It is delightful to consider the possibility of an alter life for woodland animals. What’s more Bjorn and his friends enjoy such rich experiences. It seems like even ‘watching the trees grow‘ provides entertainment. When Bjorn needs glasses, there is serious contemplation over styles and shapes which result in ‘everyone [admiring] Bjorn’s glasses and how serious they make him look’. 
We are delighted to share and recommend ‘A Bear Named Bjorn’ to newer chapter book readers. This is a rich, positive and truly engaging title.


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