All Right Already!
32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
Bear and Duck are neighbours – but two more different would be hard to find. Bear is huge, slow and somewhat grouchy; Duck small, energetic and always looking for fun. Told in dialogue with each character having their own font that cleverly echoes their nature, each story focuses on a conflict between the two as Bear wants one thing – usually a quiet life – while Duck wants the opposite. And it is the same in this latest addition to this series for very young readers…
It has snowed overnight and Duck wants to make the most of the fun it offers while Bear wants to stay in his cosy warm house. Even after Duck coaxes him out he is a reluctant participant in the games and when he starts to sneeze, Duck bundles him back inside (where he wanted to be all the time) and assumes the role of nurse. But Bear is not particularly grateful and when Duck begins to sneeze too and heads for her home, it remains to be seen whether Bear will step up and nurse her.
Apart from being a charming story that young readers will enjoy, there is much it offers for the development of early reading behaviours for them as well. Firstly, being a series, it is an opportunity for the adult to ask the child what they remember and know about the characters already so their thoughts are already set to the contrasting characteristics of each. When Duck goes to Bear’s house, full of excitement and anticipation, what sort of reception is she likely to get? There is also the opportunity to explore the concept of dialogue as the whole story is told in conversation with Duck’s voice in a different, lighter font to that of Bear’s. It offers lots of things to chat about such as why it snows and why most Australian children won’t wake to a snowy morning; how we need to protect ourselves from catching a cold and how we can keep from spreading the one we have, and also the things we can do to make a friendship solid and sustainable. While bedtime stories should always be about the bond and the connections between reader and listener, there are subtle ways that these concepts about print can be shared so that the young one engages even further with the story and becomes even more determined to become an independent reader.