Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Can Bears Ski?’ – a fantastic new picture book from poet and teacher, Raymond Antrobus. Raymond was born deaf and his debut picture book draws on his on childhood, showing how isolating being hard of hearing can be.
‘Little Bear feels the world around him. He feels his bed rumble when Dad Bear wakes him up in the morning. He feels the floor shake when his teacher stomps to get his attention. But something else is missing, like when his friends tell jokes that he isn’t sure he understands, or when all around him Little Bear hears the question, “Can bears ski?” Then, one day, Dad Bear takes him to see an “aud-i-olo-gist,” and Little Bear learns that he has been experiencing deafness and will start wearing hearing aids. Soon he figures out what that puzzling refrain is: “Can you hear me?” Little Bear’s new world is LOUD and will take some getting used to, but with the love and support of Dad Bear, he will find his way.’ 3+
This is going to be such a special book for so many children and their families. I loved how the story sensitively showed how Boy Bear experienced the world before his deafness was diagnosed – feeling the vibrations of voices, missing friends’ jokes, and misinterpreting what people were saying.
We go on a real journey with Boy Bear and Dad Bear as they begin to realise that perhaps Boy Bear might be hard of hearing: through visits to the audiologist, and through Boy Bear’s reluctance to wear his hearing aids at time. It was also interesting to see how Dad Bear changed his behaviours following diagnosis to ensure Boy Bear could understand him – speaking clearly and slowly, facing Boy Bear when reading stories and following the words on the page with his finger. Seeing the pair share a bedtime story at the end of the book really warmed my heart.
An important book to share with any child in a similar situation as Boy Bear to reassure them that they will be heard and understood, and to offer all parents, teachers and children an insight into a world where ‘hearing’ is experienced differently. 3+
*Many thanks to Walker Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*