I’m now absolutely obsessed with Congletown (real place) history. Apparently, Congleton became notorious in the 1620s when bear-baiting and cockfighting were popular sports. The town was unable to attract large crowds to its bear-baiting contests and lacked the money to pay for a new, more aggressive bear. Legend tells that Congleton spent the money they were going to spend on a bible on a bear. Now that has the makings of a great story, but it’s not child friendly, so I was relieved to see that these bears are more of the picnicking kind.
A quick google confirms that Congletown is still totally bear obsessed. Beartown beer anyone?
The fact that Congletown is in Cheshire in the north of England caught me by surprise. I was expecting this to be a black bear inspired story, and set in America. With my educator hat on, this immediately started me thinking of a huge variety of themed projects.
Back to the book though. As a mum, I was a bit shocked that the teacher ignored the bully and confiscated a cuddly toy OVERNIGHT and I was happy to move on from that scene (plus I’m not even sure the bear needed to be absent for the story to work). Anyway, as the bear statues come to life, there’s a “Night at the Museum” party, and a great twist to the end.
Superb illustrations from Si Clark – amazing rich colours and lots of details. I also love that this book is the result of a community collaboration project.
From the award-winning duo that brought you Sarah’s Shadow comes another magical adventure…
When bear-mad schoolgirl Sandy Lane has her beloved teddy bear Berisford confiscated at school, she dreads the thought of going a whole night without his cuddles.
Little does she know that a bear-rilliant night awaits her, involving Berisford, a bear statue and many other wonderful friends!
I’m Nick Jones, an award-winning author originally from Bristol but now living in Congleton, Cheshire. I write books for kids and I’ve also written several joke books for adults. My first book, “Gagged and Bound”, was a best-seller under Puns and Wordplay on Amazon UK, and two sequels soon followed. You can download a FREE collection of my jokes here.
In December 2017, I tried something different: a children’s picture book about a girl who loses her shadow. Illustrated by the super-talented Si Clark, “Sarah’s Shadow” has proved popular with kids and parents alike. In 2018 it won Best Children’s Picture Book in the 2018 Book Awards on international book review site Readers’ Favorite. My claim to fame is that the same award was previously won by none other than Jim Carrey, the Hollywood actor-cum-children’s author! Sarah’s Shadow also won Runner-Up in the Book Excellence Awards and received a Purple Dragonfly Book Award as one of the best picture ebooks for children aged 6+.
In 2020 I ran a Kickstarter campaign during lockdown to fund this book. It was inspired by the Bearmania event that took place in 2011. Thanks to amazing support from businesses and individuals in Congleton and beyond, I raised £4,000 to illustrate and print the book. For updates, please follow me on social media or subscribe to my newsletter!