Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Bear in The Fifth Floor Flat by John Foley. This is such a heartwarming, moving and meaningful read. The illustrations in the book are so lovely that I am captivated by this story. The joy of childhood and the bittersweet of growing up are perfectly captured by John. I love everything about this book and I cannot wait to read this to my little boy!
Today I have an extract for you. I hope you love it and please do check out The Bear in The Fifth Floor Flat.
For young Ruthie and her dog Scruffy the days are full of fun and laughter – until certain events change everything, and it seems that Ruthie will never be happy again. But fate can also be kind, and the sudden arrival of an extraordinary teddy bear begins to restore her happiness, and more.
Ruthie went to a new school and began to make new friends and to learn lots of new and interesting things. Even more interesting were the two new names she learned at Uncle Ted’s. One was Eric, the other was Mrs Nosey.
Eric was Uncle Ted’s hat. This was the woolly hat you read about earlier: a tall floppy hat with red and blue stripes, the sort to keep you very warm on cold, snowy days. Why was he called ‘Eric’? A very good question, but no one knew the answer, not even Uncle Ted (which is just how it is sometimes with names). Anyway, he liked to wear Eric all the time, not only when he went off to his little studio down the road, but also around the flat, and all through the day and most of the night, too.
Because Uncle Ted was really rather bald, Ruthie had always supposed that he wore the hat to stop his head getting cold. Then one day in late September when it was quite warm outside the flat and inside, too, and they were about to have tea in the kitchen, Uncle Ted came back from his studio. As usual he was wearing the hat at the table, and as usual Ruthie’s mother made him take it off and put it in his pocket. Although Ruthie had often wondered about her uncle’s hat she had never asked him before. This time she did.
‘Isn’t your head very hot in that hat?’
Uncle Ted looked at her in surprise. ‘You think I wear the hat to keep my
‘Yes,’ said Ruthie.
‘Oh, no no no no no!’ cried her uncle. ‘Eric stops the ideas escaping!’ ‘Eric?’ said Ruthie.
‘That’s his name,’ he said.
Ruthie was puzzled. ‘Whose name?’ she asked.
‘The hat’s, of course! Everything has a name. Doesn’t it, Measly?’ And without waiting for the bear to answer, Uncle Ted continued: ‘You’re all right, you see, because you’ve got lots of hair.’ And then, as if to stop anyone else from hearing, he began whispering, ‘but I haven’t got much hair, so if I have an idea when I’m not wearing Eric it escapes–’
‘Escapes?’ Ruthie asked, also in a whisper.
‘Yes! Escapes and flies all over the room and sometimes it’s really difficult to catch it and put it back in my head and–’ He stopped suddenly and gasped: ‘Oh no, there goes one now!’ And so saying he leapt up from the table and grabbed at the air near Ruthie’s head. Then with his other hand he dragged Eric out of his pocket and in one quick motion thrust the escaped idea into the stripy hat and pulled it tight onto his head.
‘Thank heavens for that!’ he said.
‘Oh, Ted,’ said Ruthie’s mother, with a sigh and a smile. And Ruthie laughed.
‘You don’t believe me?’ said Uncle Ted. ‘Right! Give me ten minutes and you’ll see!’ He reached down into the large canvas bag he always kept by his side, took out a pad of sketching paper and some pencils and chalks and began to draw.
Ruthie and Measly leaned over to see what he was drawing, but quick as a flash Uncle Ted covered the paper with his hands and said, ‘No peeking!’
‘Come along, Ruthie,’ said her mother. ‘Why don’t we go into the living room and perhaps,’ she said, raising her voice, ‘Uncle Ted will call us when he’s ready.’
So that’s what they did. Ten minutes later, almost exactly as Uncle Ted had promised, there was a shout from the kitchen.
Ruthie dropped the book she’d been reading to Measly and ran back into the kitchen. There on the table was a drawing. It was a picture of a sandy beach by the sea. There were rocks, too, and standing by one of the rock pools was Ruthie. She was holding Measly up in the air and at the end of his foot, pinching it, was a large orange crab. And from Measly’s mouth (which, as you know, wasn’t really a mouth because he didn’t have one), came a speech bubble, and written in that bubble were the words, ‘Ow! Oooh! Ouch!’
About The Author
John Foley is a children’s book author whose previous works include Seven Simple and Slightly Silly Stories and Another Seven Simple and Slightly Silly Storiesinspired by summers spent in Hans Christian Andersen’s house in Copenhagen. All profits from this book will go to Mencap; as the son of a neurologist who specialised in cerebral palsy, John often heard his father speak about Mencap and their invaluable work for people with a learning disability.
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