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You’re snug with me

Chitra Soundar, illus. Poonam Mistry
Age 3-7

In her den in a snow drift Mama Bear gives birth to two tiny cubs. Curious about their surroundings but a little nervous the two cubs ask their mother about the wider world. She tells them about the landscape, the ice, sea and its creatures and what will happen when they leave their cosy den.

This story reads like a lullaby with the reassuring refrain ‘You’re snug with me.’ However it also has an important message, introducing the wildlife of the polar lands and suggesting their interdependency. It highlights our responsibility to look after our precious world only taking what we need, a message reiterated in the author’s letter to the reader at the end of the book.

The illustrations are stunning with lots of detail to discover if you look closely. Intricately woven in silver, grey and gold they dazzle the reader revealing the beauty of the Polar Regions and its wildlife.


Share the story

Read aloud
Read the story aloud – do this slowly to allow time to really look closely at the images there is so much to spot. You might want to read the book quietly, perhaps even whisper the Mama Bear’s words to echo her soothing reassurances.

Re read
As you read again children could join in with Mama Bear’s refrain ‘Hush now you’re snug with me.’ Or take the part of the cubs asking their questions.

Talk about the story:

  • Share favourite images and favourite lines from the story.

  • Talk about any puzzles your child may have eg about unfamiliar vocabulary such as ‘drift’ or ‘faltered’ or creatures they are not familiar with.

  • Look again at the illustrations and see if you can spot:

  • The baby bears curled up inside their mother

  • Mama Bear licking them after they are born

  • What is under the ocean

  • Other polar animals

Read the author’s note at the end of the book and talk together about what you know about the polar regions and what everyone can do to look after our world.

You’re snug with me

The beautiful pictures in this book are so imaginative that I wasn’t sure if my 3 yr old granddaughter would recognise them as polar bears, so before we looked at the book we watched a short video about polar bears and read a book about them. Nancy loves anything to do with wild life so she was very interested in the bears and where they lived. She is also a great fan of ‘Octonauts’ and loves anything about oceans, under water creatures and penguins. We looked through ‘You're snug with me’ together, talking about the pictures and pointing out different things she recognised.. fish, seals, bears, mountains, ice etc.

We set up a small world in a baking tray using ‘SnowBall play’, a pretend snowlike substance which is great for messy play. 
Nancy helped me to measure and gradually add water to the powder and loved watching it grow and become snowlike. It isn’t cold, like real snow, which we had an interesting discussion about. (We remembered making a snowman last winter and getting cold hands and wet gloves.) Nancy then added a plastic toy mummy polar bear and two bear cubs. She made a den in the snow and hid the bears inside it and said they would be nice and cosy. We added some more snow animals, such as an artic fox, a white seal, snow hares and penguins. There was lots of imaginative play and discussion. “Polar bears hunt for fish to feed their babies” “Snow hares dig under the snow for plants and carrots” “Penguins hunt for fish. They live in the Antarctic in the South Pole” Nancy added more water and said “The ice is melting”

The next day we looked at the book again. This time I told, and sometimes read, the story. Nancy was fascinated with the pictures and we talked about the two bear cubs cosy and safe inside mummy bear's tummy. Nancy remembered that she was once in her mummy’s tummy, and her mummy was once in my tummy. We talked about when the polar bear cubs were born mummy bear was licking them to clean them Nancy said “Mummies don’t lick babies though, they have a bath” “Babies can see but not polar bear babies” Nancy liked the pictures of the snowflakes and said they looked like some of their Christmas decorations.

We decided to make our own den out of a white sheet and white pillows. Nancy helped to peg it together and we snuggled inside with her favourite soft toy, which happens to be a white seal. We imagined the cold, snow and wind outside. “You’re snug with me” I said. Nancy asked grandad to be a polar bear and to catch fish. “The carpet can be the sea, and you dive down for fish.” Nancy said “I don’t like fish. I like sweet corn and fish fingers.” I said that fish fingers were made of fish and showed her the packet. Nancy said “Can I have some now?”

When I came to mind Nancy the following week I brought some homemade sparkly play dough with me. I had kept it white and added lots of silver glitter. We made a cave from the dough and Nancy put the polar bears inside. She covered the entrance so that they could sleep. We talked about animals that hibernate. Nancy put the other snow animals inside the den to be snug together, We played ‘hide and seek’ in the play dough, hiding each animal in turn, counting to ten, and then trying to find them.

After we had cleared the play dough away, we snuggled up to look at the book again. This time I was able to read more of the text and Nancy joined in with ‘You’re snug with me.’

I looked at the activity ideas about the book on ‘Lovemybooks’ and printed off the pictures to colour in. Nancy painted the polar bear mask. We then painted the picture of the globe together. I started to paint the oceans blue, and Nancy helped. She has a globe in her bedroom which we talked about and about how much of the world was water. We talked about the animals that lived in the seas “Whales, seals, fish and dolphins” said Nancy “and don’t forget the octopus.” We talked about what colour to paint the land and chose green, “Elephants live there” said Nancy. “We have to paint the sand yellow, camels live there.” I asked her what colour should we paint the polar bears land and Nancy said “White.” We talked about how the snow animals were camouflaged and couldn’t be easily seen.

A few days later I was minding Nancy again. We were sitting on the settee and I had the book on my lap. Nancy asked if she could have some milk and read the book with me. Nancy was again very interested in the pictures and asked lots of questions. She said that the polar bears are cuddling up with their mummy. She asked if we could play with the animals and snow again. I had the animals with me but hadn’t got any snow. Mummy came to the rescue with some ‘magic’ blue sand

We put this in the baking tray and Nancy added the polar bears. Again she made a den for them, and hid the babies inside to keep them cosy and snug. I introduced some ice cubes shaped like stars, which mummy had made with her the day before. Nancy was fascinated watching them melt, and tried putting sand on top to keep them from melting. We talked about how ice is made and that it turns into ice water as it melts. There was lots of imaginative play with all of the snow animals... trying to climb onto the land to get out of the water, splashing in it, making footprints, diving down to catch fish, sliding on the ice. All the animals had to climb onto the blue sand because it was the only land left. They squashed together. All the ice was melting and they had nowhere to go. We talked about what would happen if all the ice melted, and Nancy said “We can make some more.” We put some more water in the ice moulds and I said we need to put them in the freezer because the room was too warm to freeze them. Nancy kept checking every 10 minutes to see if they had frozen. We talked about it needing to be very cold for the water to freeze and if the world gets too warm the ice will melt and the snow animals will have nowhere to live.

Nancy really enjoyed the book and all of the activity ideas that sprang from it.


Things to make and do

Make a cosy den
Make a cosy den for the baby bears. Your child could place little toy bears or other soft animal toys in a shoe box full of ‘snow’ made from wadding, foam packaging or cotton wool to replicate the den Mama Bear made.

Imagine a snowy or icy world
If it happens to be snowy or icy weather you could go for a walk in the snow and have fun making footprints. If there is an ice rink nearby have a look at that to imagine a polar world. If no snow or ice is available outside your child can feel how hard and cold ice cubes are.  See below for some ice experiments.

Make a snowflake picture
Draw snowflakes with white crayons or paint on dark paper or make snowflakes torn or cut from paper doilies or cut out your own from folded paper and arrange them to make a big picture like the beautiful end papers of the book. See here for how to make snowflakes


Make an information book about polar bears (over 5s)
Talk about what your child already knows and what they would like to find out. Make a list of questions eg ‘What do they eat?’ Or ‘How long do they live?’ Use the websites and YouTube videos in our find out more section to try and answer your child’s questions together. Make a zig zag book with a page for each fact about polar bear, things your child already knew and things they have found out.  Encourage your child to illustrate the book too.

Find out more

Find out more about author Chitra Soundar

Chitra’s website includes activities based on the book designed by illustrator Poonam Mistri

Chitra’s other books include

You’re safe with me also illustrated by Poonam Mistri
Pattan’s Pumpkin illustrated by Frané Lessac
Many story collections including the Prince Veera series

Find out more about illustrator Poonam Mistri


Find out more about polar bears

Here is a video with more information

See here and here for  websites with information:

Find out more about threats to polar bears here

Experiment with ice

Make some ice with your child how long does it take to freeze? Put an ice cube in a bowl and see how long it takes to melt – does this happen quicker if the ice is in a warmer place?

Read more books about looking after our world

See our ideas for exploring 10 Things I can do to help my world   and see our collection of books about Our World