The Bear Who Stared by Duncan Beedie

This is probably far too meta, but — full disclosure — I’ve been trying to write this review for months now. I could not seem to find…the appropriate finesse. I know what I am about to say flies in the face of convention. So, I’m going to lay my cards on the table. I am pro-stare. Yes, you read that correctly. When it comes to kids staring, I am all for it.

Now, let me be clear. I am completely anti-point-and-whisper, horrible, bullying staring. But, when it comes to children stopping and really taking in something or someone that strikes them as different, or puzzling, or defying expectation, I think staring is a valuable tool for analysing, contextualising and ultimately empathising. What’s even better? Following up with a smile, a friendly hello, and maybe even a question or two.

If you would like to read a thoughtfully written article about how staring (when handled correctly by parents) can be an opportunity for children to learn about difference, do yourself a favour and go to Born Just Right. The blog is written by the mother of a fantastic little girl who was born with a full right arm and a left arm that stops after the humerus. It just might change your perspective.

If you want to read the winning, first picture book of a fresh and interesting, new talent read The Bear Who Stared. The book (anti-stare, pro-smile — if you are keeping tabs) very gently suggests to children that pushing the boundaries of social norms can have consequences. The illustrations are bright and engaging. There is a terrifically grumpy badger and a happy ending. What more can you ask for*?


OK. Stop staring. Go read.

*Your own copy, you say? Lucky for you, we are giving away a copy this week to help launch our new “Reviews in Brief” feature. For details, check out our Instagram feed on Monday, 14 May.



About Stephanie Cummings

Stephanie Cummings is a former BBC Journalist sharing her lifetime love of children's literature and illustration with her two young daughters -- and now with you, too, through Two in a Tepee. Stephanie has an academic background at the undergraduate level in literature and has master's degrees in both anthropology (material and visual culture) and design. She started her professional life in an art gallery and ended up producing radio programmes for BBC Radio 4, before deciding to become a stay at home mum. She lives with her handsome husband (who is sometimes invited into the tepee) in leafy north London.

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