Teddy Bear of the Year by Vikki VanSickle, Illus. by Sydney Hanson

Review by Jocelyne Gregory

Tundra Books, Penguin Random House, 21 January 2020

40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 978-0-73526-393-2

Ages 3-7, Grades Pre K-2

Picture Book

A Teddy Bear’s work is never done. Teddy Bear of The Year tells us the story of Teddy Bear, Ollie, and his human, Amena. As a hard-working Teddy Bear, Ollie dedicates all of his time to listening and being a comfort to Amena. However, once a year Teddy Bears gather for the Teddy Bear Picnic and Ollie has been invited. While Amena sleeps safe and sound, Ollie is whisked away on a silver sailing boat captained by Snuggles, a grizzled old teddy bear who wears a stylish handkerchief. Once they arrive, Ollie meets other Teddy Bears ranging in size and colour. True to form, the Teddy Bears association has food, dancing, singing, and most importantly, awards which are given to Teddy Bears who helped their people through illness, sleepover parties, and surviving a multiple child household.  

Sydney Hanson’s art conjures the softness and warmth that only a stuffed animal could provide. Filled with dreamy pastels, it is easy for the reader to fall into the story of Ollie and the other hardworking Teddy Bears. The designs and colours of the various bears are eye-catching and appealing to any reader. Vikki VanSickle story is filled with humorous puns and dialogue that makes the various Teddies come to life.

This would make an ideal book for both public library and home collections. The empathetic story of hardworking Teddy’s will appeal to young and old readers, and the artwork is soothing and reassuring. An excellent way to end a stressful or busy day.

Teddy Bear of the Year will be out January 21, 2020.


Jocelyne Gregory is a UBC MFA creative writing candidate and a graduate of SFU’s The Writer’s Studio. She’s an author and editor and has provided manuscript consultations with the Sechelt Public Library and the Writer’s Studio. A lifelong gamer and fan of comics, she lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.


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