There's A Bear in the Window by June Pitman-Hayes
Updated: Mar 10
From singer-songwriter June Pitman-Hayes comes a story told in both English and te reo Māori that celebrates the great teddy bear hunt. The hunt entertained thousands of children in New Zealand during 2020's lockdown. Even Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern got in on the action, placing a childhood bear of hers in her window. The activity, created to raise children's spirits during the uncertainty of Covid-19, became popular all over the world.
The story flips the bear hunt around. Rather than us spotting them, what do they see?
Pitman-Hayes is renowned for her catchy and popular children's songs, including Kia Ora, You Can Be A Kiwi Too and Kia Kaha, Standing Strong. Her songs are always relevant to New Zealand, and this book is no different. Piwakawaka and tūī flit through the story, and there's Pitman-Hayes favourite gumboots included too.
The book and song is in both English and te reo Māori, with Pānia Papa translating. While it might be a children's book, this story would be great for any adult taking their first steps to learning te reo Māori. The repetitive sentence structure, with varying adjectives and nouns, makes it great for really cementing, and testing, your own skills. A glossary, or papakupu, is included within the back cover for any tricky unknown words.
The book is also a song, which can be downloaded or streamed on Spotify. As well as the song, an instrumental version is included to allow for little people to make up their own additions. The song is also available in te reo Māori (https://gyro.lnk.to/HePeakeiteWini), which will make a huge difference for learners. Pitman-Hayes pronounces te reo beautifully and clearly, aiding learning. The song is super catchy and follows a great rhythm in either language.
Illustrator Minky Stapleton's bright and colourful artworks add to the fun of the story. Stapleton always makes her illustrations inclusive and diverse, and this book is no different. Different cultures, religions and races are represented within the illustrations, as are multigenerational households. She also includes plenty of instantly recognisable flora, fauna, and settings.
Photographs of teddy bears in windows during the lockdown are also included at the end of the book, alongside a place to pop your own photograph.
There's A Bear In The Window takes a chaotic moment in our history and turns it into a catchy, fun song that will bring a smile to little reader's faces.
Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell
Scholastic, RRP $19.99