I am always on the look out for new picture books which empower children to be themselves. Brave Dave (by the pair behind ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’) does just that. It is great for opening up conversations about how we all have different strengths and are all brave on different ways.
Make sure you read Giles’ piece about the inspiration for Brave Dave!
‘From the creators of the internationally bestselling Giraffes Can’t Dance comes a life-affirming new story about a little bear who learns what it really means to find your inner brave and have the confidence to be yourself . . .
Dave, the grizzly bear, is in awe of his big brother Clarence – he’s big, brave and strong, all the things that Dave thinks a grizzly bear should be. How Dave wishes he could be more like Clarence until, one day, Dave discovers that bravery comes in different guises and that this grizzly bear doesn’t need to be more Clarence, he needs to be more Dave!’
BRAVE DAVE – A piece by Giles Andreae about the inspiration behind his touching story.
The idea for BRAVE DAVE came about because I was considering how often we use the word “brave” with children. We say, “Come on, be brave, be brave!” but what does beingbrave REALLY mean? It’s much more than just not crying when they graze their knees, simply because we don’t want to listen to the noise!
I once read that bravery is about choice – doing the difficult thing when there’s an easier way. I like this.
Now, one thing I feel strongly about is for children not to feel as though they need to conform to stereotypes – and in particular to the most common stereotype of all – that of gendered behaviour.
When I was a child, I was what you might have called at the time (the 1970s) a bit of a “girly” boy. I was a skinny, weedy, little redhead who loved writing poetry and hated playing rugby. In fact, I was so weedy that I was the only boy I knew who was bullied by girls!
So, I thought, yes – this is what I want to write about; the idea that we should all be allowed to be proud of who we are, particularly when we don’t conform to lazy stereotypes. This is of the utmost importance when we are young, and our sense of self is malleable, delicate, and not yet fully formed.
Fortunately, the title BRAVE DAVE just popped into my head, and I knew that Dave had to be the most testosterone-fuelled animal of all – a grizzly bear. But he’s a weedy little grizzly bear who loves not poetry (as I did) -but flowers; the ultimate symbol of vulnerability, beauty and peace.
I also wanted to write about something that I personally find incredibly moving – which is witnessing ordinary people commit to each other with unconditional love in the face of great jeopardy. I won’t spoil the story by telling you how this happens, but Guy Parker Rees, the illustrator of Brave Dave, was kind enough to tell me that he did have a little tear in his eye after first reading it.
So that’s Brave Dave. And I guess the message is that sometimes, the very bravest thing of all that you can do… is to pick flowers.
As I said at the start, this heartwarming story is perfect for getting children talking about times when they’ve felt that they can’t be themselves or don’t measure up.
Here are my top four questions to ask whilst reading this book:
1. Why did Dave cry when he couldn’t do everything as well as Clarence? How do you think he was feeling?
2. What advice could you give to Dave to help him feel better?
3. What do you think Dave was thinking when he was about to give Clarence his cloak?
4. What makes YOU special or brave?
I’d love to hear if any of you share this book with your children and what responses you get!
*Many thanks to Hachette Children’s Books for sending me this title to review*