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The Bear Under The Stairs


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A beautifully illustrated classic from the brilliant, award-winning author-illustrator, Helen Cooper

About the Author

HELEN COOPER is the only illustrator ever to win the highly prestigious Kate Greenaway Award for two consecutive books- THE BABY WHO WOULDN'T GO TO BED, 1996 and PUMPKIN SOUP, 1998. She has had several other successful titles published by Doubleday including LITTLE MONSTER DID IT! and THE BEAR UNDER THE STAIRS, which won the Smarties Young Judges' Award in 1994. Both are now perennial favourites in nurseries, schools, libraries and bookshops.Helen is married to author/illustrator Ted Dewan. They have one daughter and live in Oxford.


K-Gr 2-William is scared of bears and the place under the stairs. Ergo, it is easy for him to convince himself that a bear lives there. To appease the animal, the boy tosses it leftover table scraps. Eventually, the inevitable occurs, and a strange aroma pervades the house, prompting his mother to investigate. She and William open the door to find an old furry rug, a broken chair, horrible stinky food strewn everywhere...but no bear. Or is there? For, skulking in the shadows and sneaking off into the distance, a bear can be seen, and, disappearing along with it, are William's fears. While Dick Gackenbach's Harry and the Terrible Whatzit (Clarion, 1979) and Mercer Mayer's There's a Nightmare in My Closet (Dial, 1985) remain the definitive explorations of a child's imagination run rampant, Cooper does a nice job. The somber, homey illustrations, combined with an offbeat rhyme scheme, capture the slightly skewed world of a youngster's surmountable fear.-Anna DeWind, Milwaukee Public Library

Anyone who's ever suffered an irrational fear will sympathize heartily with William, who's convinced that a grizzly bear lurks in the closet beneath the stairs. His apprehension blossoms to the point where he begins saving morsels from meals and tossing them quickly into the closet (``wham, bang, thump!'') as tokens of appeasement. Finally, his mother sniffs out the problem (literally), and tackles it head-on, sending William's fear packing (and the bear as well--a tongue-in-cheek final illustration shows the grizzly parachuting into new territory, carpetbag in hand). Cooper's sunny approach to a common childhood anxiety is bolstered by deft use of light and shadow in her soft-focus watercolor and pencil art, which visually reinforces the elusive, imaginary nature of William's concern. Ages 3-7. (June)

Cooper has a shadowy style which she uses to great effect, wafting us into the surreal imagination of a boy determined to stay up all night * The Times *
Helen Cooper's beautifully illustrated, dreamy book dealing with the fears born of children's imaginings blurs the line between fact and fantasy in a way that provides lots of scope for classroom discussion * TES *
Beautifully and evocatively illustrated . . . A gem . . . A simple yet captivating picture book which youngsters will return to again and again * Junior Bookshelf *
Successfully combines the slightly scary with homely reassurance; it is effectively and simply told, and is brought to life by plenty of imaginative, detailed, full-page illustrations * Books for your Children *

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