Think back to your childhood. What was the toy you loved most? My sister and I had some great board games; I really loved modelling clay; Spirograph was difficult to master but great fun; but the dolls and the soft animals, they were different, they were friends. Sadly, when I was around twelve, I decided I was too old for all those babyish trappings and, in a moment of cold hearted madness, I gave them all away. I feel really sore now that I no longer have my sweet, little white bear - 'Snowy'. What was I thinking! But, hopefully at the bring-and-buy sale that I donated him to, Snowy was bought and given to another little girl or boy and they loved him. It would be fun to know his history. Perhaps Snowy is still around somewhere... still loved.
My new book 'Bevan, A Well-Loved Bear' follows the history of a very old bear, from his first days in an Edwardian nursery all the way through to present day, moving between families, and across America. There's even a hint of a future story on the book's cover.
Bevan, A Well-Loved Bear will be published 15th August 2021 by Sleeping Bear Press. You can pre-order now.
Here are a couple of the character sketches I drew to prepare for the book.
Here's a sneak peek at part of an illustration from 'Bevan, A Well-Loved Bear'...
Written by Helen Foster James and illustrated by Petra Brown. Published by Sleeping Bear Press. published: Sept. 15, 2020 . ISBN: 978-1-53411-012-0
Coming out in a few days time... Sleeping Bear Press, Helen and I have once again collaborated over a new title, 'Welcome to the World!'
I absolutely adored working on this one. Not bunnies this time, but red squirrels! How can you not like red squirrels?
A baby's first year is filled with newness and wonder, from the sight of the sun filtering through leaves to the splash of water at bathtime to sweet snuggles with mom. This book celebrates all of baby's charming firsts and reminds us all of the miracles this life holds when seen through their very new eyes.
A single day, a first year—a lovely addition to little ones’ shelves. (Picture book. 0-4)
A family of red squirrels introduces a new baby to the waiting world in James and Brown’s latest collaboration. A single day of games and exploring stands also for a baby’s first year of discovery and family.
The day begins with yawns, sunshine, toys, and smiles. From there, the squirrel kit ventures outside to sing songs, dance, and play hide-and-seek. Back inside for bathtime bubbles, a snuggly story, and finally sleepy goodnights.
A quiet, parental voice narrates, addressing the baby directly, and the sparse text carries readers through a day of welcoming “hellos” ranging from pet names (“Hello, sunshine”; “Hello, cutie”) to words that capture the moment (“Hello, wiggles”; “Hello, cuddles”).
In typical fashion, Brown’s illustrations capture the sprawling fun of outdoor games as deftly as they do the quiet intimacy of a bedtime routine. Rich, warm tones of sunshine and ruddy fur invite readers to cozy up, whether in a lap or under covers or snuggled next to a new sibling.
Despite the predictably traditional family setup (clothing and accessories suggest an opposite-sex set of two parents), what could easily tumble into saccharine, shower-gift banality manages instead to convey the immediacy and timelessness of a delightful day with loving caregivers.
Daddy Loves You! Hardcover – March 15, 2020
by Helen Foster James (Author), Petra Brown (Illustrator)
From the author-illustrator team that created Grandma Loves You! comes a touching story just for Daddy and his newest little bunny. Told in charming verse with signature bunny characters, this book celebrates the unique relationship a father has with his child and the deep love they share. This pair's adventures and tender moments will warm the heart.
This is a 'Keepsake Edition' - the book has a frontispiece designed for a gift inscription and date, and at the back there is a space for a personalised “Special Letter to My Favorite Bunny” and a photo of “Daddy and child.”
A Horse Named Jack written by Linda Vander Heyden
Jack the horse just loves when kids come to visit him on the farm! But today he's bored, bored, BORED. So Jack unlatches his stall - click - and heads out for an adventure, wreaking havoc through the farm before escaping into the neighbour's garden for a snack.
This rhyming story counts up to ten as Jack makes his way across the farm and then counts back down as he races home - with the neighbour hot on his heels.
Published by Sleeping Bear Press.
I had fun with this one... lots of different animals to draw: roosters and chickens, kittens and cats, bees and spiders, piglets, dogs, song birds, rabbits, frogs, and of course... a horse!
Available to buy now! :o)
Review from 'The Simple Moms'
With the devastating events that have been occurring around the country these past few weeks I thought that I’d move up my schedule for sharing this wonderful new book from our friends at Sleeping Bear Press. I won’t even pretend to understand what people who have been personally impacted by a devastating event such as a hurricane, forest fire, or tornado go through, but I will say that it breaks my heart to see these displaced families and my children are always concerned for the families and people affected.
To help with some of the questions my children have been having about what happens after an event like a big storm we have been reading When the Wind Blew by Petra Brown. This book is for ages 4-8 but even older kids (like my almost 10 year old) can benefit from the conversations that this book can easily start for you.
The book starts with Big Bear and Little Bear sleeping in their snug and cozy den, when Little Bear is woken by a loud scary sound. In the morning Big Bear and Little Bear expect to start their day as normal and instead find that a storm raged through overnight and damaged the surrounding forest.
Big Bear and Little Bear then set out to find a new home where they will still be able to find food and shelter. Throughout their long day of travel we hear some of Little Bear’s fears, “Did the wind hurt the water?” And “What if all the trees in the world had blown down?”
At the end of the day Little Bear and Big Bear find their new home and Little Bear comes to the realization that “… when I’m with you, wherever we are, I feel I’m at home.”
Petra Brown does a lovely job of tackling a very scary subject for kids and making it much less scary with her friendly illustrations and cute interactions between Big Bear and Little Bear. I really appreciate how this has made it easy to reassure my kids that as long as we’re safe and together we are home.
Review by NC Teacher Stuff
When The Wind Blew
written and illustrated by Petra Brown
2017 (Sleeping Bear Press)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
They looked in wonder at all the broken stumps and ragged roots. Yesterday the trees had stretched up to the sky, high above their heads.
Little Bear hears big noises outside his cave. He is nervous. Big Bear assures him they are safe. Little Bear, comforted, goes back to sleep. When they wander outside their cave in the morning, they see all of the trees that have been downed by the wind. The good news? For today, it will be easier to get to the fruit and honey they crave. The bad news? They have to find a new cave because the fruit trees will stop producing and the bees will go elsewhere. This is a nice piece of cause and effect that could be pointed out in a first or second grade classroom. All throughout, Big Bear reassures Little Bear with an optimistic attitude. The two float down the river until they come to a place to walk onshore. Walking alongside the river, the bear duo comes to a valley where the trees are upright because they are protected by a cliff. Again, Big Bear reminds Little Bear that, like the trees, he is always going to be protected. After a bit of a tricky walk involving gaps to jump and trees to slide down, they find a place with shady tall trees, honey, and fruit. In addition, there is a new cave that they can call home. As they curl up in their new home, Little Bear remarks, "I don't miss our old den at all. Because when I'm with you, wherever we are, I feel I'm at home." Tell me you didn't just go all "Awww!" inside. And that's exactly what your class will do.
This is a terrific book to read to young children in the face of a natural disaster. It's so important to comfort them in these situations. When the Wind Blew also serves as a model of what to do when things go wrong. The bears stay optimistic and move on to find a solution. As previously noted, there are also several examples of cause and effect and there's some nice opportunities here to talk about habitats and life cycles as well. On top of all that, this is a sweet book that will be a nice bedtime story too.
Posted by Jeff Barger
Review by Picture Book Depot
Change can be scary, especially a change caused by a natural event or disaster that is out of our hands. That’s the premise of author Petra Brown’s newest picture book, When the Wind Blew.
The book opens to a quiet night of snoozing, snuggling and sweet dreams as a big brown bear and a cuddly little bear get their beauty sleep. As little ones are prone to do, Little Bear awakes the moment he hears a “roaring sort of sound,” but he soon goes back to sleep when Big Bear reassures him that it’s only the wind.
But when Little Bear and Big Bear finally awake and step outside to fetch breakfast, Little Bear is shocked. The forest trees that stretched to the sky only yesterday have been knocked over by the wind. Things seem scary and uncertain. Thanks goodness Big Bear is there to answer questions.
When the Wind Blew is a visually and conceptually beautiful book that is so much more than just a book about forest animals. It is also about life and the lightning-fast and ofttimes irreversible changes that happen as we live it — and in many cases, often while little ones are asleep. It is about adults and guardians providing stability and security and words of wisdom and comfort when scary things happen. It’s about children gaining strength from that wisdom and realizing that life does indeed go on.
Ms. Brown’s prose is sweet, innocent and so realistic that young readers will easily identify with Little Bear’s hopes and fears. Her illustrations capture the warm and fuzzy look that we associate with bears, including expressions of love, confusion and hope on the bears’ faces. She uses soft pastels and warm earth tones to offer picture book lovers everything from the peaceful darkness of the bears’ slumber chamber to the shocking view of once-proud trees snapped off at their base to a pristine lake flanked by soft blue mountains.
Use this book in early elementary classrooms as a jumping off point for discussions about change, fear, and moving forward in life. This book also makes a nice lap book before, during or just after stormy evenings at home.
I am proud to introduce Big Bear and Little Bear. They appear in my new book 'When The Wind Blew'.
I illustrated and wrote this one, so it's all my fault if you don't like it... but you will, you will, I'm sure!
The story begins with a wild storm in the night. The two bears are safe in their den, but wake in the morning to find that the wind has blown down all the trees in their beloved forest! Big Bear helps Little Bear understand what has happened and how they will have to find a new home. When you are a little bear big life changes can be worrying and hard to deal with, but if you have a big bear who loves you, a bear who is positive and calm and kind, well... then obstacles can be overcome without too much anxiety. Life will move forward, and sometimes, with a little luck, life can become a little better.
'When the Wind Blew' is available to buy now. Published by Sleeping Bear Press.
Rags, Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story won the Intermediate Grades Charlotte Award!
New York readers enjoyed learning about the little dog's Rags battlefield exploits and how he would not leave his soldier's side.
Named for the main character in E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, the purpose of the NYSRA Charlotte Award is to encourage students to read outstanding literature and ultimately become life-long readers. The award has been given every two years by the New York State Reading Association. A committee of educators from across the state determines a ballot of excellent fiction and informational texts published in the previous two years. The winning authors and illustrators are chosen by NY students.
Books are voted upon by students in four categories: primary (preschool through grade two), intermediate (grades three through five), middle school, and high school. Over 5,000 votes were cast in this school year by NY students for the 2016 award.
I'm so thrilled that Rags has won another award! It's such a shame that Margot Theis Raven, the author, is no longer with us to enjoy the book's success. Sadly Margot passed away in 2014, Rags was her last book.
Find out more about the author...
Rags, Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story - Awards:
2016 Teachers' Choice Awards for Children's Book, Winner, 2016
2016 Storytelling World Awards, Winner, 2016
2016 New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award, Winner, 2016
Comstock Read Aloud Book Awards , Commended, 2015
2014 USA Best Books Award - Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Non-Fiction Category, Short-listed, 2014
When Sid hears that Geraint will be playing for the Cwmhendy rugby team, he's determined to help his best friend... the only thing is that he doesn't know anything about playing rugby! Nothing at all. Can Sid help Geraint win the game?
This story will delight young readers - full of fun and disaster!
This is Tanya James' second Sid book - read about Sid and the Cwmhendy Dog Show too!
I was thrilled when Gomer Press, a publishing company based in Llandysul, west Wales, asked me to illustrate the next 'Sid' adventure. I'd had so much fun illustrating the first of Tanya James' books- 'Sid and the Cwmhendy Dog Show' I wanted 'in' on the next!
Tanya's books are so much fun and really charming. She based the character of Sid on her own beloved jack russell terrier...
Tanya L. James
Review from - Parents in Touch
Sid and the Rugby Match by Tanya James
Sid is back in a new story and this time he wants to help Geraint and the Cwmhendy Rugby team. The trouble is, he knows nothing about rugby, so his efforts to help don't quite work out - but who could be cross wih such a lovable little dog? It's a lovely story, with plenty of humour - and Welsh readers will appreciate the use of some Welsh words and idioms. Petra Brown's lovely illustrations capture Sid and all the rest of the characters perfectly. With its short chapters and plentiful illsutrations, the book is perfect for newly confident readers.
I'm really pleased to report that 'Rags' was selected as an honor book for the eleventh annual Comstock Read Aloud Book Award.
It was one of three honor books chosen for the 9-12 yr-old category. The award is given to the best picture books to read aloud to children from age nine to twelve. The winner of this category was 'What to do When You're Sent to Your Room' by Ann Stott illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. 629 picture books published in 2014 were submitted by publishers for the award. These books were read aloud to 21,990 children.
The following is an excerpt from the official site-
Rags: Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story written by Margot Theis Raven and illustrated by Petra Brown and published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2014.
Rags, a stray dog, is rescued in Paris during WWI by Army Private James Donovan. When Donovan is sent to the battlefield, Rags goes along and helps the soldiers by chasing mice and rats out of the trenches, warning of incoming shells, delivering messages, and boosting the soldiers' morale. During a battle, Private Donovan and Rags are both wounded. Severely injured, Donovan is sent back to the United States and Rags refuses to leave his side and so returns to the U.S. with him.
Both students and teachers felt that this was a heartwarming story. Several comments were made about the story being sad, but one student replied it was a “good kind of sad.” Students liked that it was a true story which described a unique part of history during WWI. One group summed it up by stating, “We want to meet Rags.”
Background information on War Dogs of WWI and an epilogue that describes how Rags spent his final years are included.
Margot Theis Raven was born in Indianapolis, IN on August 30, 1950 and died in Mt. Pleasant, SC on August 16, 2014. Raven was an accomplished fine art painter and a national award winning author. Rags: Hero Dog of WWI was her last book and was released just weeks before her death.
Petra Brown, the illustrator, lives in North Wales, UK and has been a children’s book illustrator since 2006.
Another book! This time it is a Spanish book written by Marina Montero and published by Penguin Random House España.
Little bear, still sleepy, stretched and yawned twice. He sniffed the air for the smell of breakfast. What was that smell that enveloped him? Little bear and Big bear leave the den and go in search of a very special aroma. They discover many smells- tree resin, hazelnuts, honey, apples, rain, and fire ... but none of these are the right smell. Evening, when the moon peeked over the horizon and the Little bear snuggled sleepily in the warm arms of the big bear, he realises that it wasn't really a smell he was sensing, it was the sweetest thing of all - love!