Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 26 Sep 2023

The Bear Who Had Nothing To Wear by Jeanne Willis, Illustrated by Brian Fitzgerald

Jeanne Willis is one of the stars in the firmament when it comes to contemporary children’s literature. Winner of plenty of prizes and nominated for plenty more, her prolific output (over 150 books at the last count) is consistently marked by her sense of wicked fun.

She’s also had several creative and successful partnerships with extraordinarily good illustrators who have helped bring her cheeky, entertaining stories to life. Here she works with Brian Fitzgerald, the award-winning Irish illustrator whose generous, colourful drawings makes the bear of the title come vividly to life for us.

The Bear Who Had Nothing To Wear is a story about finding your identity and how hard it can be to keep hold of ourselves when there are so many choices to make. Albie, the teddy bear, arrives at his new home and as you might expect:

“Albie arrived wearing nothing but fur,

He could have been either a Him or a Her.”

Usual practice is not going to be the order of the day for Albie:

“Most teddy bears let their owner decide…..

But Albie would NOT, for a bear has its pride.”

And so Albie embarks on a journey to find an identity that best fits. The search for an identity starts on Monday with dressing like an infant – until that runs thin. So it’s out of those clothes and into those of a prince:

“…Pantaloons and a tunic, a ruby red gown.”

But on Tuesday, the clothes of a Prince no longer suit and it’s into the guise of a Fairy Queen – until Wednesday when it’s time to be a cowboy.

Every day of the week brings a new idea, a new costume and a new identity to try out – but every time Albie changes its still just not the right. 

Finally, by the end of the week, Albie has at last found the true identity that really fits him in every way….

But I’m not going to tell you what that is because you’ll want to read the book and find out for yourself.

This book will enchant and amuse younger readers and would be perfect for reading together with a parent. There’s plenty of Willis’ trademark humour (watch out for that cowpat!) and it will give you a chance to talk about how difficult – and fun – it can be to find your true identity as you grow up.

This is a big, generously-proportioned book published by The Scallywag Press and should be available from your local independent bookshop – who will be glad to order it for you if there aren’t copies on their shelves.


Terry Potter

September 2023