No Bears

Written by Meg McKinlay
Illustrated by Leila Rudge

Walker Books Australia, 2011;  Candlewick Press, US, 2012; Walker Books UK, 2013

 Ages 4+

Ruby is in charge of this book. And she’ll tell you something right now. There are NO BEARS in it. Not even one.

Ruby wants to tell you a story. A story with absolutely no bears. You don’t need bears for a book. You need pretty things like fairies and princesses and castles. And maybe funny things and exciting things – but definitely no bears!

The multilayered text and illustrations will have kids reading the book over and over; features many well-known fairytale references throughout.

[Readers of the Candlewick edition, please substitute “Ella” for “Ruby”. When No Bears was accepted for US publication, there were altogether “too many Ruby books” and so we decided to change the character’s name so she wouldn’t get lost in the crowd.]

What Readers Are Saying:

‘No Bears has been attracting praise and epithets like ‘instant classic’, and no wonder … This is a book that will delight children and adults alike, and will doubtless become a storytime staple in libraries and pre-schools everywhere.’
writingWA review, the West Australian

‘No Bears is a delightful ‘look and find’ tale for tiny tots (3+). Humour hiding in the illustrations complements Ruby’s tale to perfection.’
Kids Book Review

‘Once upon a time there were no bears! No bears and a big monster! Haha! This is one of the best best best books ever!’
Littlebug and Turkeybird

‘… a perfect book to read with a group of children over and over again … with each new reading, more things are discovered’
– Liz Derouet, Magpies

‘False advertising! I spotted a bear!’
– astute child readers everywhere


 Awards CBCAshortliststicker

  • Shortlisted, Early Childhood Category, CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2012
  • Shortlisted, Picture Books Category, CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2012



Download classroom ideas

Download a No Bears Find-a-word

Blog interview with me and No Bears illustrator Leila Rudge


Behind the Story

Curiously, the story that became No Bears grew out of my obsession with ducks. I had been writing another book about a duck called Max and every time I sat down to work, he would pop up in my head – QUACK! – and demand attention. It got to the point where everything I wrote seemed to involve a duck.

One day, out of frustration, I typed the line THERE ARE NO DUCKS IN THIS STORY! And then I went ooh. Because that had given me an idea. It sounded like the voice of a little girl. A little girl confidently telling a story, thinking she was in charge of it and knew everything about it, but all the while in the background, there were other things going on. Things that only the reader could see. Ducks, in fact. Doing duckish things, and actually driving the story forward.

The idea evolved in fits and starts over a couple of years, and by the time I had a draft to send to my editor, the first duck book – Duck for a Day – was already scheduled for publication. I talked it over with my editor and we decided it was best not to do two books about ducks so close together, so we decided to go with bears, which work equally well for the purposes of the story. Since I know all this background, I can’t help smiling to myself over the fact that in the end there really are no ducks in this story.

And of course, there are no bears either. Honestly.