Bear and Chook (illustrated by Emma Quay)
A Mark Macleod Book
Hodder Headline, 2002
Bear likes adventure. Chook likes the quiet life.
They are the best of friends, but one sunny day,
Bear gets Chook into all sorts of mischief.
The text for ‘Bear and Chook’ came about slightly differently to my later picture books. It was my third book, my second picture book text and the first that didn’t have its beginning as a play or a scene for children to perform. I was involved in a writing group at the time and I can remember suggesting to them, as a challenge, that we should go away and attempt a picture book about a bear. I must have been feeling particularly punishing, because if you were really going to make things easy for yourself, writing about a bear in some fresh, never-been-done way is not the goal you’d set. There are a million brilliant bear books out there. Bear books are like the Mount Everest of the picture book world! But the thing about Mount Everest, I guess, is that it’s there to be tackled. At least, if I failed in an attempt to conquer a bear story, I wasn’t going to tumble down a mountain or lose my fingers, or my nose or my life.
Though at the time I felt like I might! Because after having suggested the idea, I then found it absolutely impossible to write anything at all. For ages, I was incredibly anxious about the fact that my friends were giving up their writing time to write about some idea I’d suggested, whilst I was going to turn up to our writing group empty-handed.
And then one day, while I was lying on my bed (which I convince anyone who asks is a valid part of my working life) a snippet of conversation idled into my mind.
‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ asked Bear.
‘An old Chook,’ said Chook.
‘Oh,’ said Bear.
‘What about you, Bear?’ asked Chook.
‘I think,’ said Bear, ‘that I’d like to be a builder.’
And with those two voices, a whole story began.
“A delightful romp for little kids, with wonderful sound words, and a playful look at different careers…the pictures are bright and full of action.”
Totline Issue 2
“Illustrates a warm relationship between unlikely friends as they look to the future and dream of what they can be. The conversations between the two make this an excellent book to read aloud and there are great sound effects to attempt as Bear gets Chook into all kinds of trouble.”
Shortlisted 2003: Children’s Book Council Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Award for Early Childhood
Notable Book 2003: Children’s Book Council Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Award for Picture Books
Shortlisted Book 2004: BILBY Awards, Early Readers Category
Best Picture Book Nominee 2002: The Children’s Bookshop