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Bear Shaped

Jack and Bear are the best of friends. Jack loves Bear because he makes him feel brave. But one day Bear disappears and Jack suddenly feels all alone with a big Bear-shaped hole in his heart. Word soon gets around that Bear is missing and Jack starts to receive kind messages from strangers all over the world. Then the toy bears start to arrive. Though the bears start to heal Jack’s sadness, none of them are Jack’s bear. Perhaps there is something Jack can do with them to help the other people with bear-shaped holes. . . A beautiful story of love, loss, and moving forward, inspired by the true story of Jack and his beloved Bear.

Our Review Panel says...

Inspired by the true story of Jack and his beloved Bear, this is a gentle and tender picture book exploring the relatable experience of treasuring a toy and touching on themes of loss, growing up and helping others.

Jack and his well-loved teddy bear are inseparable. Bear helps Jack to calm down when the world around him seems a bit too much, and provides both comfort and companionship through each day’s up and downs. When Jack loses Bear after a trip to the park, he is inconsolable. Such is the impact of the loss, that Jack’s family go to great lengths to find the missing toy, putting up posters and making appeals to friends and strangers online.

Jack feels a bear-shaped hole inside of him and there are reminders about Bear everywhere – the clouds, the puddles, the bus stop sign, the front door. Strangers respond to the appeal in kindness by sending Jack all sorts of replacement bears – old bears, new bears, big bears and small bears arrive in the post, but none of them are Bear. Over time, Jack begins to come to terms with his loss and decides to re-gift the bears to others in need.

This is a beautiful picture book made all the more poignant by being based on a true story of an autistic boy’s search for his missing bear. Many children hearing the story will have come across enough missing toy stories to quickly predict that Jack will lose the bear – but the resolution takes a less expected path when Jack never gets his own Bear back. The delicate and detailed illustrations portray Jack’s emotions closely and the details in the background are delightful (we spot more brilliantly concealed ‘bear-shaped’ items each time we read it).

Despite Jack’s disappointment at losing Bear, the story is an uplifting one and Jack’s decision to share the new bears with other children is both touching and inspiring.

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