The happy tiptoeing illustration on the cover belies the fear inside.  Inside there is a scary bear who sends the children scampering back through their frightening journey in reverse, back to the safety of their beds.
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Like so many similar children’s books, it is about teaching a small child that ‘fear’ is nothing to be frightened of, and everything turns out alright in the end.  It is not a lesson I learned, and so many things have frightened me, from the unnatural tilting of a yacht when my father was at the helm, to wasps, to planes, to men hanging about on streets and walking on the same side after dark and breaking into my home and coming to get me, and getting close to people.  Some of the fears I have dealt with and mostly overcome.  I had allergy skin tests to prove that I wouldn’t die if I was stung by a wasp.  I learnt to sail a racing dinghy and my fear became exhilaration under my control, when horizantal is as easy to regain as letting go of the rope in my hand.  Other fears were worth enduring because of the treat at the end – flying, for example.  Some, I’ve just had to work round, such as dark streets and shadows and I discovered that policemen make lots of thing much less frightening.  As for getting close to people, that was one that I did not risk for a very long time but then discovered that it was worth pushing through the fear to discover the joy and bliss on the other side, even if it does not always work out.   Two years ago I went rock climbing and put my life in the hands of a stranger, and that was a sign of how far I have come.  And putting my feet on that green velvet couch, eventually, was another step forward – acknowledging that I could not make it all better alone.
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There never was a reassuring parent who told me everything was going to be fine, only me.  I never ran to my mother to hide in the comfort of her hug and my father’s temper was the scariest thing in our house.  I became my own parent, as best I could.  Things still frighten that scared-small-child-that-resides-in-me-more than they might frighten other people, I think and I take very little on trust.  And sometimes my parent is just as overwhelmed as that child and panic takes over.  I’m good at letting go when it comes to my children, who regularly enjoy the thrill of being frightened, and I find that I survive.  The free fall of being left does not kill me either.  Nor does facing up to my past, though it still hurts more than I can explain, and nothing about it is pretty or bright or warm.  I’ve been on a very long Bear Hunt, through the worst terrain, but I’ve seen the bear and now I can go home.
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I do not think my husband feels fear.  Which is reassuring.
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