I am very excited to announce that my next picture book, TEDDY BEAR OF THE YEAR, illustrated with warmth and humour and a lot of fuzziness by Sydney Hanson, will be published by Tundra Books on January 21, 2020. This book is a love letter to teddy bears and stuffies of all shapes and sizes. As a kid I loved my stuffed animals and was enchanted with the idea of a teddy bear’s picnic, where all my favourites would gather and get up to shenanigans away from humans. Many years later, it was a joy to tap into this fantasy and create my own version of a teddy bear’s picnic story, but with a modern twist.
TEDDY BEAR OF THE YEAR is about Ollie, a young teddy bear who loves his job looking after his child, Amena. They live a small but quiet and loving life, until one night a shining silver sailboat arrives at Amena’s window, captained by a grizzled teddy bear named The Snug, and Ollie is whisked off to his first Teddy Bears’ Picnic. There, Ollie meets members of the Teddy Bear’s Association, including Mr. Pants, Chief Cuddling Officer, and Scottie from the Department of Bedtime Planning.
After treats, games, and even some Dolly Parton themed bear-oke, it’s time for the service awards. As teddies are called up to receive recognition for their deeds- attending sleepovers, surviving the lost and found, visiting the hospital- Ollie starts to feel very small and unimportant, and questions his invitation to the picnic at all. But he’s about to find out that in the Teddy Bear Association, even the smallest acts of kindness can have a big impact.
I had a lot of fun playing around with office culture and the concept of corporate service awards, but what I really wanted to do in this book was celebrate small acts of kindness. As a society we focus a lot on extraordinary feats of courage and bravery, but just as important are the everyday acts of kindness and empathy that may not be newsworthy, but can change someone’s day just the same. I hope readers find some comfort and share a giggle or two with this book.