A BEARY special adventure comes to Barnsley

If you go down to Cooper Gallery this summer

You’re sure of a big surprise

If you go down to Cooper Gallery this summer

You might not believe your eyes

For every bear is sure to be there

From Rupert to Paddington, to Pooh and Old Bear

For the first time ever the Bears! are coming to Barnsley


A teddy bear adventure inspired by our favourite and most famous bears from children’s literature, Bears!  – a touring exhibition by Seven Stories – the National Centre for Children’s Books – is arriving at the Cooper Gallery this summer.

From Saturday 30th June to Sunday 2nd September, the galleries will be transformed into a woodland escape. Here, a whole host of popular picture book bears will be brought to life from original illustrations and stories that we know and love them from.

In a world where toys are being left on the shelf in place of technology, how refreshing it will be to get back to the bare necessities of story time and reconnect with memories of our cuddly childhood companions.

Seven Stories is the UK’s only charity dedicated to collecting, championing and celebrating our children’s literature heritage, with an extensive collection from over 200 authors and illustrators dating back to the 1930s.

Following 12 successful months at their seven-storey Newcastle museum, Bears! sets off on a tour of the country, starting its journey at the Cooper Gallery in the heart of Barnsley town centre.

During the exhibition there will be artwork and manuscripts on display from stories both old and new. The perfect setting to bring story characters to life, the galleries will showcase all the components that go into making popular children’s books.

From first scribbles and dummy books to character sketches and annotated drafts, Bears! looks at traditional and digital techniques and highlights why bears have become such an important part in children’s stories.

A family friendly interactive exhibition, join Otto the Book Bear as he follows the trail and goes in search of other books to make his home. Meet Otto’s fellow book bears old and new, with no two the same.

Read a classic bedtime story with Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear, by Martin Waddell and see Barbara Firth’s original, life-like artwork which she began drawing aged just three.

Give Hugless Douglas that big bear hug he’s been looking for throughout David Melling’s story – can you discover which hug is the best? Hint – you might need your mum for that.

See how the iconic Hundred Acre Wood came to life with Robert Ingpen’s illustrated version inspired by Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, near to where AA Milne and his son Christopher Robin lived. Did you know Winnie-the-Pooh was named after a real-life Canadian black bear that lived at London Zoo?

Try your hand at still-life drawing like Jane Hissey who chose toys for her Old Bear series as they were the only models who were happy to sit still for long enough. Why not bring your own bear rescued from the attic to draw – the tuftier the better.

Can you find the Bear Under the Stairs? Author Helen Cooper based her book on a true story where she kept feeding an imaginary bear in the cupboard under her stairs when she was a young girl. Have a go at writing about your own bear friends.

Dress up as Padlock the Dancing Bear and pull a sad face as you hide from Mr Gum. Will you be as tall as 40 hamsters or as heavy as 19,000 grapes like Andy Stanton and David Tazzyman’s character was?

And don’t forget, not all bears are safe and cuddly. They don’t all eat marmalade sandwiches, befriend little toy pigs or wear checked trousers. Some are based on real life ursine, the ferocious and majestic beasts that roam the lands.

See how Michael Rosen wanted the family to react in We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Do you think Helen Oxenbury took his annotated scribbles to depict emotion as they ran home scared?

Read more about factual-based characters such as the crescent-chest Asian black bear which inspired Gill Lewis to write Moon Bear, an upsetting and educational tale about the gall bladder milking trade in South East Asia.

Or the Lords of the Arctic, polar bears, which feature heavily in Nick Singer’s Island; a story about the risks of animal extinction based on human actions.

And how can we forget the Three Bears who have become a fairytale feature since 1837. Discover how Robert Southey’s original story has developed overtime, turning his old, haggard Silver Hair into the Goldilocks we all know. Remember – the bears are the good guys, its Goldilocks who steals their porridge and breaks their furniture.

Throughout the exhibition there will be lots of family friendly activities to take part in, with regular story times, a celebration for the birthday of one of our bears in residence – Paddington – as well as a teddy bears’ picnic where people can bring along their much loved furry companions.

From very young children who love reading time to older, independent readers who get lost in the magic of a story, Bears! is great for all ages and it would be unbearable to miss it.

Admission to the exhibition is free of charge and for more information visit www.cooper-gallery.com

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