This is a lovely little book. Lovely to read, Lovely to hold. It is the biography of Teddy One-Eye. Teddy’s life follows that of Gavin Bishop, who is his longstanding caregiver and companion and so the book also serves as a biography of Gavin as well. Well, the young Gavin anyway. Poor old Teddy is banished to various cupboards while Gavin is maturing, going to university, getting married. Eventually he is reintroduced into the writer’s life.
Teddy wears his experience with haphazard style. One of his eyes is long gone – replaced with a button by a doting grandmother. A grandmother who regularly visited regularly, from her Invercargill home, the childhood home of Gavin in Kingston, at the tip of Lake Whakatipu. This Teddy starts his life beloved; he is fought over (enter Gavin’s younger brother) and fussed over (the grandmother whose immense skills extend to mending). He is forgotten (as Gavin matures) and is reborn (by Gavin’s children).
The setting for his book is also critical – it spans from 1940s rural New Zealand to the present day. The bear has an astute perspective on the changes to New Zealand life, and to growing up in that era. The hardships, the way of life, and the freedom to explore, that children enjoyed.
It’s a heart warming story and I think Bishop is at his best towards the end of the book, when his flawless story telling reveals even more back story to this adventurous bear’s life. This isn’t a book for all children. But many will enjoy it. And, given that Gavin Bishop’s first book was published in 1981, lots of adults will enjoy reading this delightful story of (partly) his life.
REVIEWER: Gillian Whalley Torckler
TITLE: Teddy One-Eye
AUTHOR(S): Gavin Bishop
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House