Bear Shaped ISBN: 9780192772114
Published by Oxford University Press, 2020
Jack has a bear called 'Bear', and he and Bear are very close friends indeed. Part of the reason for this is that Jack is autistic, and Bear is the perfect companion for times when Jack is shy or nervous or needing to try something new. Bear is always there to help, because Jack carries him everywhere and they are best friends in every way. Bear makes Jack brave. One day while they are playing in the park, Bear disappears. Jack doesn't know how or why but he is gone, and Jack is bereft. He feels there is a 'bear-shaped hole' inside him, and 'it was as if Bear was everywhere and nowhere at the same time.' Posters are made and Jack's parents ask all their friends to look out for Bear, and, in desperation, his Dad sends out a call on the Internet - which goes viral - and soon there are bears and messages arriving from all over the world. So many people understand just what Jack is going through, and soon all this kindness begins to 'soften the edges of the bear-shaped hole', and Jack sees how wonderful it has been to have a friend like Bear. He also realises that there may be other children in the world who need (but don't have) their own Bear. So he makes the brave decision to give away all the many bears that have been sent to him, and we see children receiving and rejoicing in their new bears, while Jack knows that his own special Bear will always live in his heart. Based on a true story of the loss of an important toy, this is a deeply moving picture book, full of beautiful, gentle illustrations that perfectly match the poignant text.