The Very Cranky bear by Nick Bland

The Very Cranky Bear

The Very Cranky Bear

The Very Cranky Bear is no doubt one you are already familiar with, but considering the depth of our love for it here at The Sunshine Collective, we just had to write about it this week!


On a cold and rainy day in the jungle, four animal friends (Lion, Zebra, Moose and Sheep) go into a cave to play. Unbeknownst to the party of four, there is a very cranky bear trying to sleep in the cave. The friends race outside to escape the bear and then try to come up with ways to make him happy so he will let them back in. Unsurprisingly, none of their ideas are very successful, until, that is, Sheep does something a bit different…

Why I love it:

Firstly, I love the text itself; the words are written as rhyme and it just flows really beautifully. Secondly, I adore the illustrations. Nick Bland does his own illustrations and there’s just something really warm about them. The faces of the animals are captivating and the feelings and emotions portrayed are genuine and relatable. Thirdly, and the main reason I absolutely adore this book, is Sheep. She is such a beautiful character and the ending (which I will not give away, just in case this book is new to you) is one of the sweetest and most divine endings I have ever read. It stills brings tears to my eyes every time I read this book to my kids.

Themes to discuss with your child:

The Very Cranky Bear raises a number of themes to discuss. The main ones, as I see it, are:

  • The concept of ‘not judging a book by its cover’ – Sheep is seen as the plain one, Bear is seen as cranky, but both have been misjudged
  • Accepting differences and realising that we do not all need to look the same to be happy
  • Friendship and what it means to be a true friend
  • Getting along
  • The importance of really listening to people instead of making assumptions
  • Kindness
  • Selflessness
  • Thoughtfulness

 Questions to ask your child:

Before reading:

  • What do you think this book might be about?
  • Do you think this is a fiction book (a story) or a non-fiction book (facts)?
  • Does the bear look friendly? What is it about his face that makes you think this?
  • What does ‘cranky’ mean? What is another word for cranky?

After reading:

  • Who was your favourite character in the book?
  • What was your favourite page?
  • On the first page, which are the rhyming words?
  • What did Sheep do that was different to what the others did?
  • How would you have felt if you were Bear?
  • Do you think Bear might be happy when he wakes up?
  • What sorts of things make you cranky?
  • Have you ever done something really kind, like Sheep? Tell me about it.

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