Macmillan Children’s Books has pounced for Five Bears, a new picture book written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner.
World rights in the text and the artwork were acquired by picture books publishing director Hannah Ray from Caroline Walsh at David Higham Associates.
Rayner won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for her second book Harris Finds His Feet (Little Tiger), and she has been shortlisted a further five times. She also won the BookTrust Early Years Award for Augustus and His Smile (Little Tiger). This year, Arlo, the Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep (MCB) was shortlisted for the BookTrust Storytime Prize and is currently shortlisted for Scottish Book Trust’s Bookbug Picture Book Prize.
Her new picture book is “a big-hearted story about friendship, difference and acceptance” featuring various species of bears from around the world, from a panda to a polar bear. It will be published in hardback in June 2022 and is the seventh picture book written and illustrated by her to be published by Macmillan Children’s Books.
Ray said: “Catherine is a true talent, and a creator of perfect picture books. We are very proud to have been her picture-book home for the last decade, and are delighted to be publishing the brilliant Five Bears, with its joyful message of empathy and inclusivity.”
Rayner added: “Five Bears aims to encourage curiosity, overcome fears and illustrate what teamwork and love can achieve. I’ve tried to do this gently using simple language and... bears! Creating the bear characters was a fascinating challenge and I love each of them all for different reasons. They are all painted in a slightly different way using a wide range of media, from scribbly pencils and printing with wire brushes to bold, block inks.
“This is a book about showing indiscriminate kindness to others, and there is a line in Five Bears which gives me a lump in my throat: 'A stuck bear clearly needs help.' There can be a tendency to be wary of difference—but if it is addressed early to little readers, in a way that is easy for them to absorb, then it will nurture empathy. I hope there is a bear within this book that every child, no matter their circumstance, can relate to. It is my dream that this book helps to make a difference to our future generations' attitude toward helping 'stuck bears' all over the world.”
Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, m.d. at Macmillan Children's Books, commented: “We are proud to be Catherine’s publisher. Every one of her stories has such heart and her illustrations always draw you into a comforting world. She adeptly covers big themes through the gentle humour of her animal characters and readers, young and old alike, know they are in safe hands when they pick up her books to share them together. We are so pleased to be publishing another soon-to-be-classic story by Catherine at MCB.”
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