Listen: Sydney author Christopher Cheng shares the emotional story behind new children's book 'Bear and Rat'
It’s not every day that a picture book is released about friendship and loss, but Christopher Cheng’s Bear and Rat is a beautiful depiction of walking through life together, no matter what comes along.
Children’s author Christopher Cheng wrote Bear and Rat as a way of coping when his wife Bini received treatment for cancer at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney.
In the book, the characters of Bear and Rat are Christopher and Bini respectively, based on their favourite animals. And, as Christopher shared with Sam Robinson on Hope Breakfast, just like in real life, they do everything together.
“Bear and Rat is a story about two very best friends,” Christopher said.
“In friendship you have the greatest of times, and you also have rough trots.
“My wife was diagnosed a few years [ago] with breast cancer. As a children’s writer, the way I cope with anything is to write. For me, it was a case of writing down my thoughts, writing what I was feeling. So, I wrote out Bear and Rat. It’s how I would cope with what the two of us were going to go through.”
Christopher never intended to publish the book, but as Bini’s treatment went on, and as she sadly passed away, he realised this touching tale might be helpful for children to read.
“[Kids] are going to go through these experiences – when they lose a pet, what are they going to do? How are you going to explain it? How are you going to tell those kids what to do with the thoughts and the memories?” Chris asked.
“How do you process the fact that your very best friend, whether it be your life partner, or your best school mate that goes to the next suburb, how are you going to talk about that?
“I think that’s one way that Bear and Rat will succeed in talking about those separations and losing best friends, in whatever way you lose a best friend.”
Hear the full chat with Christopher Cheng in the player above. Bear and Rat is available now.