This month saw the release, on dvd and digital download, of the animated film, We're Going On A Bear Hunt. You may have caught it on TV over Christmas, but we missed it because we were visiting the in laws in Brittany. (And if you're thinking to yourselves, "ooh I didn't know Pierre had glasses now", you'd be right - they're empty frames, he was fed up of being the only Madhouse kid without glasses !)
Here's the trailer from Channel 4 before their Christmas airing to give you a quick taster. Even if I hadn't known, the music and general feel of the animation would have made me realise that this was produced by the makers of The Snowman and The Snowdog. I can see it becoming another festive classic that the whole family will settle down to watch after their Christmas pud.
The animation is based on the well-loved classic picture book of the same name by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury. It starts off just the same, with the family excitedly heading off on a daring expedition : "We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day ! We're not scared."
The book is very repetitive ... "Uh-uh ! ... We can't go over it. We can't go under it. Oh no ! We've got to go through it !" and includes lots of onomatopoeia so even the youngest readers can join in with some of the reading.
The intrepid explorers go through grass, a river, mud, a forest, a snowstorm and finally a cave, before running back home to hide under the covers and give up on their scary bear-hunting antics.
The animation builds on this well-loved simple story to add a slightly darker, more poignant element that is a useful life lesson for young viewers. The family have one final obstacle that they can't go over or under and that they have to go through - life, and in particular, the grief of losing a grandparent. Whereas the book only featured the children of the family, the animation introduces new characters Mum, Dad and Grandma, with the voices provided by Olivia Colman, Pam Ferris and Mark Williams. (Author Michael Rosen also makes an appearance as the Bear !)
I actually really liked the added plot elements and didn't think they were too sad. One of the children, Rosie, makes friends with the bear and gives him her grandfather's scarf, suggesting that they she may go back to visit him. Grandma wisely explains that "there's nothing wrong with being sad, it's just a way of remembering the happy times", and we know that the family will be fine and will come through their grief because they have each other and their memories. Pierre was also absolutely delighted and dissolved into fits of giggles when Max said "we're going on a poo hunt" !
As I mentioned yesterday (when I showed you the fab contents of the party pack), there will be a We're Going On A Bear Hunt twitter party on Thursday 16th February from 4-6pm. There are prizes to be won so join in the fun at @UKMumsTV and using the #BearHunt hashtag. You can also see how we get on with our party by following me @cherylp59.
Disclosure : We received the dvd as part of a We're Going On A Bear Hunt twitter party pack.