Ghostbear Review

Title: Ghostbear
Author & Illustrator: Paul McDermott
Published:  September 2020
Publisher: Scholastic
Readership: Children
Genre: Picturebook
Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $24.99
Themes: love, loss, redemption, environment, family, hope, climate change

I received a copy of Ghostbear from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Where have all the brave bears gone? Under the bright, shining stars, a young cub lost in the snow searches for the ones he loves.

Embarking on a surprising journey, and warmed by memories, he finds a new friend…and reunites with old ones. A moving and redemptive tale from performer, writer and artist Paul McDermott.

Book Features:

  • An intensely moving picture book, written and illustrated by popular TV host, award-winning film maker, writer and artist, Paul McDermott.
  • Paul McDermott has created beautiful new art using oil paint on canvas.
  • A companion to his celebrated short film, Ghostbear.
  • Themes include love, loss, redemption, environment, climate change, family, hope and eternity.

The first thing that drew me into Ghostbear‘s sphere was the gorgeous front cover art. Lots of people in your life will tell you not to judge a book by it’s cover – but in reality, a lot of time, work and thought goes into covers for that very reason and picking up any book requires some interest that often comes from a quick glance at the cover. (Lesson: it’s okay to judge a book by it’s cover… as long as you read it, too?)

I’m notorious for not reading a book’s synopsis (and sometimes I don’t even look at the author) and when I requested Ghostbear it was purely because the cover intrigued me – the gorgeous artwork, it’s stark colour palette. All of it made me want to pick this up and read it, and I’m glad I did.

Ghostbear is a hard picture book to summarise adequately. I know that it was, a few years back, an animated short film (which I haven’t seen) by Paul McDermott – someone who’s work I really enjoy but haven’t heard much from recently. We follow a young cub, left alone, as he searches for the family he’s lost amidst a changing environment. It is a story of memories, sadness and hope and is just beautiful to read.

Words are always important in books, and the narrative in Ghostbear is lyrical. That said, picture books are about combining the words with the illustrations to create a truly engaging story, and McDermott’s oil paintings are just so captivating here. With a limited colour palette, we – the reader – begin to understand Ghostbear, his home, and the places that he loves. When splashes of colour are added, it’s done to deepen the reader’s connection, not just to brighten the page.

This was a lovely story and one that will make you think about it long after you’ve finished reading it.

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