'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 29 December 2022

Review: The Nightingale And The Bear

At its heart, this is a book about standing up for yourself and making sense of unfathomable events, such as war. 

The book has been created to foster a sense of resilience and the impetus to stand up for yourself/others if you feel there has been injustice. It has the added bonus of generating a sense of optimism and purpose in the face of great odds.

Standing up for yourself, and others, can really matter.

These words grace the cover, along with a bear and nightingale, atop the respective blue and yellow of Ukraine’s flag.

The book tells the story of a small group of nightingales who fend off an angry, marauding bear. Their tree is savagely mutilated and their songs stop for a while, but they know that the other animals of the forest believe in them as much as they believe in themselves. Knowing this, and gathering together to defend their home, gives them strength.

Eventually, the angry bear with its terrible roar and nasty war-like machine, retreats from the forest. The nightingales are battered and bruised, and their tree is very broken, but they keep going.

Despite such challenging subject matter, the illustrations in this book are quite beautiful. Created by various artists the world over including children and Ukrainian artists, they are deeply symbolic and poignant. Pictures of the sinister, angry bear are not so dark in nature or colour as to frighten young children, but their intent is very clear.

Even with numerous illustrators, there is a consistency of style and colour palette throughout that allows the story to flow and progress. An incredible beauty and sense of sunshine along with a new day are to be found in the latter illustrations, which support the idea of moving forward in life.

The notes front and back will assist those adults endeavouring to have conversations about bullying, fear and war, and will hopefully support the cultivation of greater understanding on all fronts around the subjects of empathy, care and compassion.

Created solely to raise funds for humanitarian agencies around the heartbreaking Ukraine crisis – and applicable to any other number of current world situations -  contributors to this book have offered their time and effort without charge. All profits will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Title: The Nightingale And The Bear
Author: Dorien van’t Ende
Illustrators: Various
Publisher: Newsouth Books, $16.99
Publication Date: September 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781914611049
For ages: 3 - 8
Type: Picture Book