The work-life balance of a piano playing bear

A slightly different reflection for today’s blog post. This week’s trip to the library led to bringing home a copy of David Litchfield’s picture book, The Bear and the Piano, to read at bedtime with my toddler. This is a touching book in so many ways and one I would definitely seek out to buy as a gift for a child of any age.

[Spoiler] A bear cub finds a piano in the woods and investigates it, returning to explore the funny object over days, weeks and years and eventually becoming a proficient player to all his friends. Some visitors to the forest hear him and invite him back to Broadway where he becomes a celebrated concert pianist. But he misses his friends back home and fears they may have forgotten him. On a return visit he discovers quite the opposite to be true.

The story deals poignantly with remembering your roots and appreciating those who are behind you while you chase your dreams. It also hints at the need for perseverance and practise in order to hone a skill and that bright things come to those who work hard.

David Litchfield peppers each page with musicality through harmonious splashes of colour and three-dimensional texture, encouraging an adult reader to reflect on perspectives and how we view situations from both close up and afar. These atmospheric illustrations are exquisitely beautiful.

As I read to my little Pickle, my mind twisted around my own predicament on shifting from being a stay-at-home mum, dabbling in theatre projects, to launching myself back into the working world. I thought about the wonderful women like Tamara Harvey, the impressive Artistic Director of Theatre Clwyd who is also promoting the challenges and massive successes of the #workingmum via Twitter.

I thought about the inspirational Kate Cross MBE, director of The Egg, creating theatre with and for children whilst being an awesome role model to her own. I thought about how lucky I am to have a supportive family to help with child care and to always come back to at the end of the working day, whatever time that might be.

And I thought about the incredible workers – not just in theatre – like my husband, who is often travelling for work and doing exceptional things to make our family lifestyle possible, even if he is not able to be at home with us everyday.

Finding a work-life balance is tricky in any profession but what a stunning reminder David Litchfield’s book is to the importance of remembering the supporters back home.

Hooray for libraries but also for writers, illustrators and publicists. Here is a link in case you want to pick up a copy of The Bear and the Piano for yourself or as a present for someone special who will also appreciate this beautiful book.

All images are from David Litchfield’s The Bear and the Piano published by Lincoln Children’s Books.

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