Published by Owlet Press, 2019.
I’m a firm believer that all children should see themselves – and have their realities reflected – in books. That’s why The Blanket Bears is so important. It’s a picture book that tells of two little bears’ adoption journey.
When the story begins the two bears are scared and cold; they have lost nearly all their fur and are outside, alone in the snow. A red panda called Tilly, who’s a social worker figure, recognises that the bears aren’t safe and finds them foster parents: Bailey and Niko. Crucially, the story explores how the two little bears feel apprehensive initially but, as time passes, they feel safer and grow to like living with their foster parents. It’s Bailey and Niko who make them their blanket coats to keep them warm.
After a while, when Tilly visits she starts talking about finding the two bears a ‘forever family’. The young bears find this prospect rather daunting and scary. Bailey and Niko comfort them with a group hug. When Tilly next visits, she talks to the bears about the kind of forever family they’d like to live with. Their request? A family that will love them. Soon Tilly returns with a book full of pictures of their new home and the bears who will be their forever family. The bears will be adopted by two dads; I loved this representation of same-sex parents in a picture book.
Then begins the transition from foster home to adoptive family as the little bears meet and get to know their new family and home. The young bears feel afraid but excited too. Eventually the time is right for the little bears to move into their forever home. They live happily there but are sometimes troubled by either an anger or a sadness which they can’t explain. However, their new parents are always there to reassure them and show them love. After some months, the two little bears are delighted to find that their fur has grown back.
The Blanket Bears handles the topic of adoption in a sensitive and age-appropriate way. I’m sure it will be invaluable for children who themselves are making a similar adoption journey as it will help them to understand the process and will guide them as they make sense of their past and the associated complex emotions. Importantly, the book doesn’t shy away from difficult feelings or the legacy of the bears’ troubled start in life. In giving the little bears a happy ending in a home filled with love, The Blanket Bears is, ultimately, a reassuring and hopeful book.
Suitable for children aged 3+
Thank you to Owlet Press for sending me this book to review.