Bears delivering and receiving letters: Books by Tom Percival and David Lucas

posted in: David Lucas, Tom Percival | 10

One of the everyday delights in my life is getting post; the sort that comes through the letter box and thuds satisfylingly on the mat. Indeed, it’s one of the fringe benefits of reviewing children’s books, that most weeks I get beautiful and exciting mail, literally turning each day into a small gift.

Two very lovely books recently delivered by our fantastic post woman feature bears delivering and receiving letters, just perfect in the run up to the busiest time of year for the mail service.

hermansletterHerman’s Letter by Tom Percival (@tompercivalsays) is a humorous and sweet exploration of long distance friendship, and how difficult it can be to see your best friend having fun without you. The book trailer below gives a great précis of the plot (voiced by Lenny Henry) but what it doesn’t tell you is that this book comes with flaps and real letters to open, not quite on a par with The Jolly Postman, but certainly capturing some of the same magic that physical interaction with a book can conjure up.

No illustrated bears were harmed during the making of this animation

With cuddly characters, a nod to Rosen/Oxenbury’s Going on a Bear Hunt and witty flourishes (check out what’s being read whilst the bear snores), the illustrations have bags of kid appeal at the same time as having something to make the parents smile.

hermanreading

Herman’s Letter is a ideal winter time read with hibernation, snowstorms and the sort of warmth that emanates from an open fire. Touching on jealousy and the difficulty we can all have telling people how much they mean to us, this book balances serious feelings with super laugh-out-loud silliness.

You should be able to find Herman’s Letter in your bookshops already, but a brilliant book I’d like to recommend you read alongside it isn’t out till next month.

letterforbearA Letter for Bear by David Lucas also features lots of post, a bear and questions about loneliness and friendship. It’s almost as if David Lucas and Tom Percival were given the same brief!

In Lucas’ tale, Bear spends his life delivering other people’s post but never receives any himself. He realises that this is perhaps hardly surprising given that he has never written anyone a letter. Instead of simply accepting the situation, Bear decides to “be the change” he wishes to see in the world, and so sets about writing a few letters of his own. But will his efforts be acknowledged? Will his courage reward him?

bearletter_Reading

This is an exquisitely produced book (Flying Eye certainly specialise in this!) brimming with Lucas’ highly decorative and iconic illustrations in Christmas setting. A Letter for Bear is a perfect gift that should NOT wait for a place under the Christmas tree; I’d recommend it now as the ideal read for getting ready to make and write seasonal cards.

With all this reading about letters, cards and post, and making and sustaining friendships through the mail system, I was keen to encourage my girls to getting writing. Inspired by these lovely writing centres on Playful Learning, I decided to set up our own Postal Centre. I wanted to create an area which would be just too alluring not to sit down and write.

Here’s what I started with:

lettercentre_before

lettercentre_before2

And using ideas from Simple Kids’ Letter Writing Kit, here’s what I ended up with:

writingcentre1

writingcentre

Some fun stamps (the UK currently has some great dinosaur themed stamps out), and a selection of stickers to decorate cards and envelopes, along with a few new pens and pencils helped ensure this Postal Station was an instant hit.

lettercentre1

letters4

Once our first batch of mail was ready, we had to deliver it, and to do that in style I made two bags for my budding Posties to use, each one with a nod to the lovely books we’d enjoyed:

letters2

letters3

All our first batch of letters have now taken flight…

letters1

…and we’re hoping it won’t be too long till the Postie delivers some letters our way!

Lettery music we’ve been enjoying includes:

  • I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter by Frank Sinatra
  • No Letter Today by Bill Haley & His Comets
  • Please Mr. Postman by The Marvelettes


  • You might also enjoy

  • My round-up of post and letter theme picture books
  • Getting ready to make your own Christmas cards with the kids. Kids Craft Weekly has a nice selection of ideas, and Imagination Tree has another roundup of ideas that will inspire you.
  • Creating your own stationary with the kids. What about pressed flower letterheads, glueless paper envelopes made out of your kids’ art, or a whole stationary set decorated with washi tape?
  • Then you’ll need a cereal box stationary organizer like this one from Katydid and Kid.


  • What’s the nicest thing you’ve received in the post recently?

    Disclosure: I received free review copies of both books in today’s post.

    10 Responses

    1. Fab writing station just what every home needs, the books look amazing too
      Damyant recently posted..Peck Peck Peck by Lucy Cousins

      • Thanks Damyanti. M in particular prefers to write on the computer, so it’s been really lovely seeing her passionate about writing by hand.

    2. This is lovely, I have just started something similar. Although we are not completely at the letter writing stage it is still great to have a variety of pens and paper to play with and there are so many different kinds of letters that you can send – we’re big into birthday cards right now 🙂
      Catherine recently posted..The Wheels on the Bus

    3. Love your writing centre & very jealous of the desk!
      I do love “A Letter for Bear”
      Library Mice recently posted..FOCUS ON: Fifty years of Richard Scarry’s Busytown

    4. Hi catherine, the girls are enjoying the drawing of cards as much as any letter writing – it’s great for using kids’ artwork.

      Hi Library Mice, yes we’re very lucky with the desk – a gift when my grandma moved out of her home (she was the 1st to receive a letter from the girls too!). Bet you’ve got loads of lovely stationary you could fill a desk with.
      Zoe recently posted..Bears delivering and receiving letters: Books by Tom Percival and David Lucas

    5. These sound great! We have two books with letters (actual letters to pull out of envelopes) that I love: Dear Tooth Fairy, which is just what it sounds like (the Tooth Fairy writes back, too!) and the great Simms Taback’s Postcards from Camp.

    6. […] Playing by the Book… Delightful Postman Post… […]

    7. What cute books! Remind me of Toot and Puddle. And what great ideas about getting kids into letter writing. There’s not enough of that any more. I love our postal lady!!
      Rhythm recently posted..A Lucky Dog!

    8. Nothing better than a real letter from a real friend in the mail. Really like the creative bags – I hope it keeps the kids writing. Reminded me that I once dressed as an airmail letter for Halloween!

    9. What a transformation! And the books look quite wonderful too. I’ll check them out!
      danielle @ this picture book life recently posted..picture books for pairing/each kindness and the hundred dresses

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