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Michael Rosen has taken an old children's rhyme, and turned it into a picture book for young children, with watercolour illustrations by Helen Oxenbury.

"We're going on a bear hunt.
We're going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We're not scared."

Reader's Reviews

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury is about a family going on a hunt for a bear. On each page the family have to overcome different obstacles they come across in order to continue their hunt. As the family encounter each obstacle, they describe it by using sensory descriptions such as; long, wavy grass, a deep, cold river, thick, oozy mud, a big, dark forest, a swirling, whirling snowstorms, and a narrow, gloomy cave. By using a range of descriptive vocabulary, the reader can imagine themselves on the hunt. It’s a fantastic journey!

Within this book there is a transition between two genres. At first the genre is fiction (the family going on an adventure is plausible). However, as soon as they see the bear, the genre switches to fantasy (the family out- running the bear). By exploring two different genres in the book, Michael Rosen is allowing the reader to put the story in a real life context but also letting the reader use their imagination. ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ can be used in different contexts with different age ranges. Foundation Stage and Key Stage One children will thoroughly enjoy it as there’s lots of use of repetitive language patterns that children can join in with or re-enact. By using this language pattern and the lovely illustrations, children will love interacting with the story regardless of whether they are able to read the story themselves. The children can also interact with the story by taking part in the actions the teacher and the children come up with.

This book is ideal for younger children because the verses of the story are repeated, observations and vocabulary are age and developmentally appropriate. There are many different activities that can be created by using the book and children will love them all.

By Mayuri Jadav


Thoroughly enjoyable as a bogey picking event, especially if you join in all the traditional actions, or you march around the room reciting the poem again after you've finished reading it.


It is a great story about a family who go on a journey though obstacles such as long wavy grass and a wide river to look for a bear. All the way through they say that they are not scared but when faced with the big scary bear they are sent running all the way home back through all the obstacles.

There is a variety of educational uses for this book. Firstly science, you can try and get them to think about what may live in the different places. The book could form the basis or art they could draw the places or make their bear. In English they could use this to right their own story about a fear they have or to write a different ending. This then could link into PSHE where they could discuss fear, what to do if they are scared, where they can go to get help, what may scare others and also flipping it the other day did they need to be scared maybe the bear just wanted to be a friend. You could use it as part of your music, drama and PE lessons too.

I think this book is a must for all going into KS1 and foundation.


“We’re going on a bear hunt”, by Michael Rosen is an award winning story (Winner of the Smarties Book Prize 1989), involving a family going on an adventure to find a bear but they have to face numerous obstacles to get there, and once they arrive at the cave they are scared by what they find. It gives the reader a real sense of adventure when reading, while also wisely showing the reader the dangers of meeting the bear. The genre of the book starts as fiction, with the adventure of the bear hunt, but turns to fantasy towards the end when the family has to out run the bear.

The book is filled with repetition, firstly, the story, “We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared”, and secondly, the sounds involved in overcoming the obstacles the family must pass like “splash splosh” when the family go through the river. Each sound is repeated 3 times for effect. The book is a great read for both young and older children. Young children would be able to follow the story with the reader by reciting the words with them and doing actions for the story, while readers up to Key Stage 2 should enjoy the text level and illustrations of the book.

“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” creates many possibilities of using the book for other activities such as children creating their own adventure, or getting them to make their own pictures to go with the story. This is a superb book for developing children’s imagination and therefore is a great read both at home and in the classroom.

Michael Rosen’s book ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ was based on a children’s song he heard in the early eighties. The book is a beautifully constructed story, which follows a family through a countryside adventure. Each section poses a new obstacle for the family as they encounter a variety of landscapes and weather conditions during their expedition.  Key themes within the book explore the feelings of fear, worry, and excitement; the courageous start to the story contrasts with the climax of the tale. The unexpected reality of actually discovering a bear, results in a comedic ending. The story follows a repetitive structure which children find easy to learn and join in with. The story’s  sing-song rhythm allows children to sing along with and create actions. The illustrations by Helen Oxenbury compliment the story greatly, they depict the beautiful landscape, which is the focus throughout the story, and emphasise each weather condition/obstacle in the story. This a fantastic  story to introduce books to young children. It is fun for children to join in with and  for parents to read aloud.

Parental Guidance

  • Reading Age: 5+
  • Reading Aloud Age: 2+


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