The Bear and the Piano

David Litchfield

Frances Lincoln


September 2015


I’m not surprised this book was selected as a Highlight of the Season in The Bookseller’s Children’s Autumn Buyers Guide. It’s rather special. And it’s Litchfield’s first picture book. He will be opening The Bookseller’s Children Conference later this month when he will be exhibting (alongside five other illustrators) original artwork from this title.

I recommend a visit to his website:


From the end papers and the opening spread, the artwork in this picture book is stunning. And I love the variation in page layout. The designers have done a wonderful job.

But well-presented artwork also needs an original and moving story and this book has that also.

A bear discovers an old piano abandoned in the wood. He plays on the piano every day, practising for months and years until he can play so well that other bears come to listen. One night his playing is overheard by a girl and her father, who ‘discover’ him and entice him away to the city, where he performs in public and becomes a star on Broadway. He wins awards, is lauded, and feted. But he misses his home and his friends.

He returns to the forest. The piano has gone. His friends aren’t there. He is forlorn. But it turns out the piano has simply been moved to a safe position. His friends have been following his career. They are his fans too. He sits down and plays a special concert set just for them.

Litchfield’s forest and city illustrations are equally strong. I love, in particular, the auditorium double spread. The hardback’s dustjacket tells us that he uses “a variety of traditional techniques, assembling the different elements together in Photoshop to create large-scale, dramatic scenes.” We’re also told that the book was inspired by The White Stripes short 50-second song ‘Little Room’.

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