Reviewed by Geni Kuckhahn
‘Bear,’ said Rat. ‘I’ve been wondering. Will we always hold hands like this, even when we are old and wrinkly…
Bear and Rat are special friends. The best of friends. Forever friends. Soul mates.
As they journey together through the seasons, Rat ponders and asks Bear…
…will they remain together forever? Will they always hold hands, even if Rat is cranky or sick or does something bad?
‘Of course I’ll hold your hand,’ declared Bear. ‘And I’ll even rub your toes until they get better.’
But then Rat asks a different question. Rat asks what will happen if she has to leave and go somewhere Bear can’t go.
What will happen then?
Bear and Rat is a heartfelt masterpiece. It explores the meaning of true friendship and grief in a beautiful, simple way that young readers will comprehend differently at different ages, giving parents a chance to return to this book time and time again, especially in a time of loss. It explores ways to hold onto the memories of those lost, so they are never truly gone.
Author Christopher Cheng wrote Bear and Rat in response to his wife’s cancer diagnosis and cast the main characters as his and his wife’s favourite animals. Knowing that the book was written in real grief bring a whole new layer.
Illustrator Stephen Michael King ties the whole story together with his beautiful, deceptively simple illustrations. Bear and Rat play together as the seasons change to winter, a poignant reflection of the story’s message.
Bear and Rat is an authentic look at what it means to share love and friendship so powerfully it can never fade.