'Bear Hug', by Katharine McEwen – Book Review + Reader GIVEAWAY


Rain aside, I’m seriously digging winter right now. It’s finally starting to get cold! The sparkly days such as we had on Thursday, with a proper nip in the air and that cold, clear light are for spending time out in it, and then retreating from to a warm house and the prospect of candle (and fire!) light come late afternoon.


This, and Christmas round the corner, makes it seem just the right time for a review – and GIVEAWAY – of three copies of ‘Bear Hug‘, by Katharine McEwen, a beautiful, beautiful book about seasons and the circle of life.


For the sake of transparency, I will add that Katharine (or Kate, as she is known outside of her cover name) is one of mine and my husband’s best friends (we met at her wedding!) and guardian of my boys. I am very proud to have such a book be given to us with a personal message to my children on the inside cover – and very proud to share it with you!


Published by Templar in September, and already available in paperback, you can tell from the end papers alone, that ‘Bear Hug’ is a true labour of love. Every element has been drawn, painted and cut out by hand, before being constructed as a richly considered collage. The process is painstaking, and took Kate six months to create, with each spread taking on average three days. None of it went anywhere near a computer until Kate packed it all up and send it in to the publisher for scanning.


The result is that the bears’ fur has a touch quality to it, the snowflakes trail delicately across the pages, and nature’s landscapes, with their cross-hatching, layers and softness, are a total – and tonal – treat for the eye.

The story begins in the season of snow, with a bear making ready for hibernation. He has learnt from his mother and father how to catch and eat enough fish, and how to make his bed ready for his great sleep. While he’s doing this, he meets another bear, and they retreat together to the cave, their noses sweetly touching.


When they emerge, the colours Kate uses suggest spring. There are buds and greenery and the birds are singing long, curling, colourful tunes – vividly depicted as looping ribbons that burst forth from their beaks.


And soon the bears are not alone. They teach their own little cub to do all the things that bears should do – just as their own mothers and fathers did. Together they take honey from the trees, and gather leaves and bracken for their bed.


Then, as the year unfolds, Kate’s snowflake-discs again start to ‘twirl and tumble’ across the pages. The three retreat together to the cave.


My children are in love with this book. Never mind that it is written and illustrated by someone meaningful and important to them, when I read it to them the language leads my voice into a natural graduation towards softness and slowness: ‘shudder-cold night’, ‘lollopy-lumber’, ‘soft as thistledown’, ‘lively as a sunbeam’.


The name – ‘Bear Hug’ – is perfect for the book. Because when we start to read it, my own little cubs subconsciously nestle closer to me. They move onto my lap, curl into my body, and lift my arms up and around them.

This is a perfect Christmas book – it’s one of the books included in my children’s book advent calendar – but it’s also a book to give in celebration of new little lives joining the world.

Being as much for giving as winter arrives as for when spring or summer or autumn are upon us, ‘Bear Hug’ heralds the wonderful rhythms that the natural world passes through every year as it falls asleep – and then chirrups awake.


The way each page of ‘Bear Hug’ started
Image courtesy of Katharine McEwen


This is a social media competition in which THREE copies are being given away. To enter to be one of the lucky winners of ‘Bear Hug’ just:

  • Share this post on Facebook (yes, you may do that despite how I feel about it! But if you do, please let me know in the comments section below so that I can register your entry)
  • Share the post on Twitter, following @LittleLewes if you don’t already, as well as @katharinemcwewen – all while tagging with #BearHug
  • Share the post on Instagram – take a picture of your screen, or a screen grab from your phone, follow littlelewes and katharinemcewen, and  hashtag #BearHug
  • Share the post on Google+ (again, please let me know in comments, as I am not yet on Google+ – I am most certainly not a luddite, but could someone please explain it to me!)
  • Comment on this post in the section below, making sure to put your email address in the indicated field so I can reach you. If you subscribe to receive Little Lewes post notifications, extra credit again… *smiley winky face*
Colour and tone added…Image courtesy of Katharine McEwen 


The competition/giveaway will run for just under a week, closing next Friday the 28th of November at midday. If you’re doing the book advent calendar you should get it for the beginning of December to include you in your 24 (or 25). Get sharing!

Further texture, plus features…
Image courtesy of Katharine McEwen


The book retails at £11.99 for hardback and £6.99 for paperback.

It can be found at Bags of Books, who have a good stock of the book. If they’re out of them, Bags of Books can order ‘Bear Hug’ in for next day or two-day delivery at no charge. ‘Bear Hug’ can also be ordered from Hive.co.uk as a hardback or paperback – if you order through Hive, you can have your books delivered in to Bags of Books at no charge.

The book makes a fantastic present for new parents, and is a wonderful Christmas book. Being about seasons, I’m also told by my younger son’s nursery that it’s also a great book to donate to nurseries or school libraries.

Elements of the environment all drawn out, cut out and assembled loosely with tape
Image courtesy of Katharine McEwen


Kate’s website is at: katharinemcewen.co.uk – you MUST look at the ‘Made Objects‘ section, and please scroll far enough along to see Kate’s rather incredible pottery (called ‘Pot Shots’).

Kate can be found on Twitter at @katharinemcewen

She’s also on Instagram (an especially captivating feed!) at @katharinemcewen

Good luck in the competition!

The page done, ready to be sent to the publisher for scanning and making into the book!
Image courtesy of Katharine McEwen

WINNERS! Abbie Hills, Kat Heyes and Instagram follower Polly (@NiceKindofBlue) are the winners of the three books! Congratulations!

Disclosure: I approached Templar about reviewing ‘Bear Hug’ after Katharine McEwen gave my boys a copy of the book just before it was published. I knew that Little Lewes’s readers would like it, and asked Templar if they would agree to give away three hardback copies. I have also cited Bags of Books as a place to buy the book in Lewes because I’m their biggest fan – I encourage you to buy the book there. Any links to Hive.co.uk are affiliate links and purchases made via these links will result in a small commission being paid to me (at no cost to the customer). No compensation, financial or otherwise has been offered or accepted for the writing of this post.

// If Little Lewes’s posts appeal, how about receiving them direct to your inbox by hitting ‘subscribe’ in the side bar? You won’t be spammed – I don’t post enough! //

Posted by

I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

21 thoughts on “'Bear Hug', by Katharine McEwen – Book Review + Reader GIVEAWAY

  1. This book looks beautiful and I would love a copy for my daughters as I have copied your idea of the book advent calendar and am on the hunt for 3 more books to finish it off! I’m also a reception teacher and think this book would be a delightful addition to share with my class when I return from maternity leave after christmas. I will share this post on Facebook also to encourage friends to find little lewes as I’m sure they will love reading it as much as I do!

    1. Hi Gemma, thank you for your comment and it IS a wonderful book for both your daughters and your school! I’ve logged your entry to the comp. Good luck! x

  2. Hi Kate – what a beautiful book! I’d be delighted to win a copy of this book to read to my almost four year old Otis and, in the future, to my two week old boy Jago. I love your blog and feel as you do incredibly lucky to have found this beautiful corner of the world. We moved here in April and have tried several of your suggestions out already! We’ve been inspired by your advent ideas to make hanging bags which will have a mixture of christmas books and experiences so this book would fit in nicely! Sally x

    1. Ahhh thank you for your very kind words Sally, and congratulations on your second baby! You’re in the two boys club! So glad you’re finding living down here good, and glad that the blog has come of use! Take care and try try to enjoy these first few weeks as a four (I know it’s very hard sometimes!). You’re safely entered into the competition. Good luck!

  3. Shared on Instagram, Twitter and facebook 😉
    Ps: The closing day says December not November! Let’s hope I win one to add to my daughters advent collection… Still to be started x

    1. I’ve logged your entry Abbie and thank you SO MUCH for spotting the mistake with the date! I could have been sued by someone! Well, not really, but still… Good luck! x

  4. The book looks gorgeous and its fascinating to find out a bit of how It’s put together.

    My boys are four and one so i am optimistically hoping one will learn to read it to the other…..although maybe not by christmas.

    1. Hi Claire, yes I wish for the same – my older is six and younger is two and a half, so I am maybe a bit closer to that dream but it’s still not quite within reach! Good luck in the comp! x

  5. What a beautifully illustrated book and what a charming story! Thank you Little Lewes for sharing this book with us. I have shared it on all avenues, everyone should know about this book, gorgeous! xx

    1. Hi Kelly, yes I thought if it’s going to pee with rain all weekend, then it may as well be pretty and snowy somewhere! And rather appropriate for Bear Hug’s review too! Your entry is logged and thank you for sharing on Twitter too – so nice for Kate that everyone’s spreading the word. It’s a BEAUTIFUL book! Kate x

  6. What a beautiful book! My boys would love it. Now trying to think of other small people I might buy it for… Have shared on FB for you. Also really enjoying your website 🙂

    1. Hi Anna, thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Bear Hug is so beautiful, any child you give it to you would just love it. Bags of Books just told me today that they’re ordering in extra stock! Good luck in the comp and thank you for sharing on Facebook! x

  7. As a nursery teacher, I love it when I find something inspiring like this to share with my children. The textured approach to illustrating, the seasonal changes, the warm relationships.. lots to share! I shared it on Facebook and tweeted it. It looks beautiful, thank you!

    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment Corina – I’ve forwarded it to Kate as I know she’ll like to see that. I hope you win! Kate x

  8. This certainly looks like the perfect book to join the others I have lined up for my children’s book advent calendar. Beautifully illustrated, I’m sure my girls will just love it. Love the website. Will share via FB and Instagram x

    1. Hi Michelle, they definitely will and I’m glad to hear you’re doing the book advent calendar too! Thanks for sharing and your entry has been logged! Kate x

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