Two in a Tepee

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.