|The Bear in the Fifth Floor Flat: John Foley*|
Something a little bit different for me today; this book is mostly aimed at pre-teens. So, I had to enlist the help of 11yr old George, to help me out. Whilst G is more into books about Star Wars, dragons or historical battles as a general rule, he was prepared to assist "purely in the name of research". (And possibly because I bribed him with cookies.)
The Bear in the Fifth Floor Flat is a moving, magical and charming tale exploring love, loss and happiness through the lens of a little girl and her extraordinary bear, teaching children the importance of change and how to recognise complex notions like grief.
For young Ruthie and her dog Scruffy the days are full of fun and laughter – until certain events change everything, and it seems that Ruthie will never be happy again. But fate can also be kind, and the sudden arrival of an extraordinary teddy bear begins to restore her happiness – and to save her life just in time for Christmas.
Inspired by a rather strange-looking teddy bear gifted to his wife by her 97-year-old father, so she had something to hug when he was gone, John will donate all profits from this book to charity. As the son of a neurologist who specialised in cerebral palsy, John often heard his father speak about Mencap and their invaluable work for people with a learning disability. Also, a very close friend who encouraged John to start writing, was, as a result of a deadly illness at an early age, deeply affected by a learning disability.
What did we think? Well, this book is split up into three mini stories. When we begin, our flame-haired cover star Ruthie is a happy, smiley young girl, living in a large family house in Hampstead Heath with her parents. What follows is a gentle and heart-warming account of how these circumstances change for Ruthie, and how she comes to terms with it.
G says: "It's not the usual kind of book I would read but I think this is a good book because it is secretly teaching kids how to handle things like death and that is really important for everyone to know about because you might have to help a friend."
This would make the perfect stocking filler for Christmas, and is available now online and also from all Mencap bookshops.
**Disclosure** I was sent this book free of charge for review purposes, but I did make a donation to Mencap, as I believe they're a worthy cause.