Squirrel is super excited: he’s been invited to Big Bear’s birthday party! Now he just has to find the perfect present for his friend—but what can you give a bear who already has EVERYTHING? Squirrel searches and searches and chooses . . . a stick! As Bear unwraps his stack of gifts Squirrel begins to worry: is it enough? But with a little imagination, and a good friend, even the simplest stick can become magical. This funny, heartwarming story of friendship is a great gift—and not just for bears!
The sweetest book demonstrating friendship and imagination! I love how graciously Bear accepts his gift from Squirrel, and that he truly appreciates it, even though the others don’t think it’s that amazing. Bear and Squirrel know how to put the gift to use with their imaginations, creating way more fun than just another toy, and they do it all while sharing it together! :) Plus, the illustrations are so cute!
Who hasn’t agonized over the perfect gift for a friend? Poor squirrel wants to find the absolute perfect gift for his friend bear. The animal characters are charming, the pacing is perfect. Ben Mantel is spot-on describing bear’s opening of gifts and that anxious moment when bear opens squirrel’s gift and hasn’t commented. It is a wonderful thing to know a friend so well that you really can choose “The Best Birthday Present Ever!” It might even be that the real gift is friendship.
I still remember the anxiety I felt as a child of having the birthday gift I brought to a party unwrapped and wondering what their reaction would be, so as Squirrel watches Bear unwrap fancier and fancier presents and questions the carefully chosen stick he’d brought, I felt with him, but Bear’s reaction is utterly perfect and priceless and teaches a great lesson about imagination, graciousness and the power of friendship. The illustrations are adorable too!
Ben was born in Leamington Spa in 1980, and developed a very early interest in things artistic, designing programme covers for school productions and even coming first in his local library colouring-in competition. From there he went on to study animation at Surrey Institute of Art & Design, graduating in 2003.. He then gained valuable experience working on Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride” before moving to Brighton to work as ‘Head of Animation’ in a media company, focusing on Character and Background design.
He was also part of the Animation team creating the BAFTA winning ‘Big and Small’ CBeebies website. Since 2008, Ben has been working as a Children’s Book Illustrator from his shared studio in Brighton and he also produces screen prints and digital artwork to exhibit. He illustrated ‘Callum’s Incredible Construction Kit’ which won the Bishop’s Stortford Picture Book prize 2013.
For Eliza Hayes