Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Week of the Bear - The Bear in Pop Culture

When I first heard that my story Meena had been accepted to be in 'Gentle Footprints' it was about 1am and everyone in my house was asleep. With no-one to celebrate with I had to content myself with emailing everyone instead. My email went something along the lines of...

“Guess what?!? My story got into the animal anthology!!! You know- that one I reeeeally wanted to get in. The Born Free one. The one I was telling you about. You know! Virginia McKenna ... Richard Adams. Watership down. Remember?”

Needless to say I was excited and am almost as excited to be writing my Week of the Bear.

This week I will be writing some facts about bears, a bit about dancing bears (like the Meena of my story), a bit about the inspiration for my story, the work of the Born Free foundation to help dancing bears and a few other beary bits.

I thought that I would start with a lighter entry before we got to the gritty stuff, however, and write about the bear in literature and pop culture.

The bear has been much loved by adults and children throughout history. From the invention of teddy bears in the early 1900s (almost simultaneously in America and Germany) to the many bears of Disney, bears have found their way into the hearts of many a child.

One of the best selling franchises, especially in baby products, is Winnie the Pooh. If you ever have a baby and decide not to find out its gender before birth you can guarantee at least five Pooh Bear baby items will be gifted to you to celebrate the birth.

Along with Pooh the bear has popped up throughout the cartoon world in the form of Rupert, Baloo, Yogi, Barney, Brother Bear, Boog, the Gummi Bears, Berenstein Bears, Hillbilly Bears and Superted to name just a few.

The bear holds a particular appeal for children, and perhaps even more for those buying for children, because of its great strength and power and, in juxtaposition, its cuddly cute appeal. Unfortunately these are also the traits which create such an appeal in hunting, killing or ‘taming’ real bears from the wild, but that is something we will come back to later in the week.

The image of the bear has been used in products from breakfast cereal to honey and as a mascot for many teams and organisations including Smokey the Bear, the mascot for the U.S. Forrest Service. Even the bears of the colder regions get a look in. Who could forget that Coca Cola advertisement that often graces our screens at Christmas with the family of polar bears?

For many of you reading this, however, your true passion will lie in literature and here we also find some great stories featuring bears.

I have already mentioned Winnie the Pooh (though with the vast amount of merchandising it is easy to forget that Pooh Bear originally erupted from the pages of a book). And there are many other bears that have clawed their way from paper to screen. Among them are Paddington, Baloo and Rupert.

Some others are best known from the book they appeared in. Most are from children’s books however there are fleeting glimpses in adult literature too.

• Iorek Byrnison is an armoured polar bear in Phillip Pullman’s 'His Dark Materials' trilogy
• Goldilocks and the Three Bears (it features three of them!)
• Stephen King’s Shardik is a cyborg bear in his 'Wizard and Glass' trilogy and was named after a bear of the same name created by an author close to our hearts........
• Richard Adams who’s second novel 'Shardik' was about a giant bear (a bear who it would be ill advised to cuddle)
• Maurice Sendak’s 'Little Bear'
• The Bear and the Two Travellers (Aesop’s Fables)
• The classic stage direction from Shakespeare’s play 'The Winter’s Tale', “Exit pursued by a bear”

So it seems that a bear finds its way to us through our books, televisions, food, safety warnings and even on the Pooh Bear nappy covered bottoms of our babies, but there is a whole lot more to the bear than a cute, lovable friend.

Check back later in the week for some more serious facts about the bear, beginning tomorrow with the plight of the dancing bear and the work that the Born Free Foundation do to help them.

I leave you now with a picture of an obscenely expensive bear which was made for the Steiff 125th anniversary celebration and set buyers back over £54,000 pounds per bear.


  1. Wow! Great post and some interesting facts!!!!

  2. Lots of information...Rupert Bear's cartoon in the Daily Express was my first introduction to newspapers.

  3. The illustrator that did the Express cartoon strip, Alfred Bestall, lived in Beddgelert in Snowdonia, and you can see a lot of his drawings are inspired by the scenery there. Remember Paul McCartney's We All Stand Together? It was inspired by the illustrator's The Frogs Chorus drawing - the McCartney video featured Rupert and the frogs.

    Bit of a tangent but thought I'd share that with you!