Jill Murphy: Just One of Those Days

Illustrated by the author

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 2020

I love everything about the Bear family. Jill Murphy captures the familiar routines, trials and joys of parenthood with just the right language and rich illustrations.

I was hooked by the first page in Just One of Those Days because I remember how squeezy it was in bed with not only one child, but three…and how long the nights could be when you didn’t get enough sleep and still had to face the day ahead.

To make things worse, as you turn the page in the story, it is raining outside and so many layers of clothing have to be put on before heading out. My favourite colour illustration is the look between Mr Bear and Mrs Bear as they venture out to work and Nursery…it speaks of love and teamwork and support for each other. So that when it is just one of those days, everyone knows they are bound together in this journey, and able to get through all the things that can go awry.

I did laugh when Baby Bear could not drink out of his favourite red cup at Nursery. Unfortunately, Someone Else got it and as we all know, water does not taste as good in the green cup. My daughter had a favourite cup and a favourite seat at the table…it did not bode well for anyone if that cup ended up in Someone Else’s hands or that seat held up Someone Else’s bottom!

And I did smile when they all arrived home at the end of the workday and Mrs Bear put on her comfy pyjamas…I do that too! Pyjamas and pizza, and a surprise for Baby Bear from Mr Bear, which makes the story complete.

This picture book is like a warm hug and helps me to believe in the wonderful restorative power of the family where everyone plays their part, despite not having enough sleep and everything that can and does go wrong.

Jill Murphy has also written about the Large family…Five Minutes Peace is another favourite for me. It’s all a mother craves some days!

I can highly recommend this picture book for children 2-6 years and below there are more titles in both series to enjoy:

Mother Knows Best

Whatever Next!

Peace at Last

Five Minute’s Peace

All In One Piece

A Piece of Cake

A Quiet Night In

Mr Large In Charge

Bonny Becker: A Birthday for Bear

Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

Published by Walker Books, London, 2012

If there were two characters that I would most like to host for tea it would be Bear and Mouse from this series by Bonny Becker.

Bear is fastidious, overbearing, grumpy and crotchety about almost everything.

Mouse is eternally optimistic, bright-eyed, cheeky and persistent about being Bear’s best friend.

Together they are an odd couple, but very endearing.

In A Birthday for Bear, we learn that it is Bear’s birthday and that he is not at all interested in celebrating it. Mouse has other plans however and we see him try every trick in the book to encourage Bear to change his mind. Mouse writes his own invitation to the party, but that doesn’t work. He disguises himself as a delivery man with three red party balloons and gets shooed off the porch. He dresses up as postman and delivers a birthday card, but Bear will not be moved. Mouse even drops down the chimney as Santa with a present but Bear only notices all the ash making a mess over the hearth. It seems like the final straw. But is it?

Kady MacDonald Denton does a masterful job illustrating Bear and Mouse. On any given page, Bear is illustrated in various poses with a range of emotions. He can be outraged, frustrated, huffy, curious, surprised, contrite, sneaky and delighted. Mouse is a tiny, energetic, indefatigable and ever-present creature that constantly picks and pulls at Bear’s privacy and never seems to give up despite the many setbacks he endures. Fortunately, there is always a happy ending and whilst Bear may sometimes forget that he has a wonderful friend, Mouse never tires of making sure Bear knows it.

There are many books in this series by Bonny Becker and whilst they do not need to be read in order, I highly recommend that you read all of them! They would be most suitable for children aged 4-8 years:

A Visitor for Bear
A Library Book for Bear
A Bedtime for Bear
The Sniffles for Bear
A Christmas for Bear