We’d never recommend getting between a hungry bear and his next meal as a general rule, but when the bear is this cute, we’d actually recommend getting right in the middle of the crisis. Well, from the very safe distance of the pages of a book, perhaps; and this book, particularly. 

Our furry little friend Bobby is about to eat a delicious, fresh-caught fish for dinner. He looks away for just a moment and — poof — it’s gone! What ensues is a tenderhearted romp around the woodland in search of the missing meal accompanied by friends old and new. The disappearance was not an accident, as you might have guessed, but the culprit is forgiven by our noble Bobby in an act that’s worth considering and imitating. 

We at BookTrib were pleased as Punch to ask the author of Bobby the Bear and His Missing Dinner, Ryan O’Connor, about his creation and creative process. Turns out, he was blessed to work with a close relative, he wished to use his literary gift to create a tangible gift, and he thankfully has more adventures in the works. 

Q: What was your inspiration for writing Bobby the Bear and His Missing Dinner

A: My inspiration for the book was my nieces and nephews. Living so far away, I miss all the important aspects of their lives, like birthdays, holidays, sporting events and school performances, so I wanted to give them something special and unique that they could cherish for years to come. Writing is an important part of my life, as is reading, and I thought writing a book for them while using these books to teach important life lessons was the most perfect gift I could give them.

Q: What was it like to work with your stepdaughter, Xiang Manke, who created the illustrations for the book? 

A: Working with my stepdaughter was such a special experience. We finished two books together and are currently working on a third. We were able to combine our passions to make something creative for children to enjoy. My wife also played a big part in all these books, so it certainly was a family affair that we can cherish forever.

Q: You are an American currently living and working in Shanghai. What can you tell us about the cultural differences between childhood in China and in the States?

A: Life for children in China is completely different than it is for children in the U.S. The children here spend most of their weekends and holidays in classes. There is a lot of pressure for children to perform well in school, and with so many children in China, that pressure to be successful is great and hard for me to understand. I have a lot of sympathy for the children here because they don’t have the childhood I had, or the one that my nieces and nephews currently experience.

Q: What was your favorite picture book as a child and why?

A: My favorite picture book growing up was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I love the sense of adventure and exploration in the story. When you include all the creatures in the story, it allowed me to dream and fantasize about traveling and exploring the unknown world. Looking back at the book as I got older, I felt like I could connect with Max.

Q: You have written a companion to this book called Merry Christmas, Bobby the Bear! Are more Bobby the Bear stories on the horizon, and do you have other books in the works?

A: I am working on my third Bobby the Bear book and hope to release it this summer (Bobby the Bear and His Birthday Surprise). I also have drafted two other Bobby the Bear books I hope to get out either later this year or early next year. I just released a book about Chinese New Year, Ting Ting, the Girl Who Saved China, and I am finishing up a draft of another Chinese folktale about their Mid-Autumn Festival that I hope will be released this summer as well.

For more information about Bobby the Bear and His Missing Dinner, read our review of the book here

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Ryan O’Connor is a literature and writing teacher in Shanghai, China and the author of the children’s book series Bobby the Bear. The other book is Merry Christmas, Bobby the Bear! With a background in sports journalism and education, Ryan has now turned his focus to writing children’s books. Through unique characters, Ryan provides children with moral and life lessons. Ryan has earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, where he would go on to win numerous awards for sports writing, and a Master’s in Education.