There’s a Bear on my Chair by Ross Collins is a delightful tale of a disgruntled mouse and a rather uncooperative bear, who has made himself comfortable on mouse’s favourite chair.
The front cover sets the tone of the story perfectly with the bear waving casually and looking relaxed and comfortable – if a little large for the chair he’s happily perching on – and the cross-looking mouse scowling whilst pointing at his nemesis (although the mouse’s rather fetching patterned jumper means there’s a limit to how seriously even the smallest child could take him. Definitely cute-angry rather than scary).
The text is in rhyme, with all the rhyming words ending in the ‘air’ sound and, as the story goes along and the mouse gets crosser and crosser, more of the words are highlighted in red. Indeed when the mouse reaches breaking point, the whole background is red and the text more than doubles in size with exclamation marks galore.
The illustrations in this book perfectly complement the text and the fact that each spread has a simple block colour background means that the main focus is always on the expressions and interplay of the characters. And these are very expressive characters – you can feel the mouse getting ever-angrier as everything he does fails to get the attention of the bear.
Some of the most striking pages are those on which there are no words at all. I particularly love the ‘stand-off’ page where mouse and bear are back-to-back, in opposite corners, and you wonder how the situation will ever be resolved. I found myself feeling totally sympathetic towards the mouse whilst also secretly admiring bear’s gumption.
As with all good stories there is a twist in this tale, when bear nonchalantly climbs down from the chair and swaggers home, only to find he has an unexpected visitor of his own. Perhaps he’ll find himself wishing he had been kinder to mouse after all…