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HARRY THE SURFING BEAR: How David Giddings Made Groms Want To Read

| posted on July 22, 2010

It’s a well-known fact that young minds are as absorbent as an old boogie-board. The stories told to children have the power to influence who they grow up to be. While the Berenstain Bears, Curious George, and Clifford have helped mold the values and aspirations of a generation, a new grom-hero has hit the beach – covered in fur, ready to learn about the world, and amped to snag a few barrels along the way.

[It’s a] heartfelt passion that I have for kids to learn and realize the importance of the ocean as our playground – a place that we can go and get away from life’s difficulties; but also it’s a place that we can just rejoice, enjoy the act of surfing, and protect that asset that we have.

Meet David Giddings’ creation: Harry the Bear. He surfs. He skates. He learns about life. Whether combating polluted A-frames or learning about the cultures of others, this bear navigates a few claws-full of wisdom in his series of children’s books – and sure makes you wish you were a grom again.

Says Giddings, “Messages range from: Take care of the ocean and it will take care of you” to “the importance of sharing and respecting others, represented through the sharing of waves between the newcomer, Harry, and a local.”

With four kids of his own, Giddings knows how to make a story that will get any micro-grom stoked, and also teach them simple yet important lessons.

In the highlight of Harry Rips Australia, Harry punches the teeth out of an attacking shark (something all of us can appreciate), thus gaining the admiration of everyone in the lineup.

Giddings credits the inspiration for Harry The Bear to his son Addison. Says Giddings, “My son at that time was like 4 or 5, and he had a dream of a bear chasing him. I asked him ‘Hey, were you scared?’ and he said ‘No, he had roller skates on.’ And so the light bulb went on, and I thought ‘Instead of roller skates, how bout a surfboard or a skateboard or a snowboard or a motorcycle?”

While these books are obviously intended for young children, the surfer-parent reading them to his/her kid will definitely enjoy the illustrations by Ron Noble and Rick Erkeneff, and might even find an uncanny resemblance between the cutback of Harry with that of Tommy Curren. It’s not a coincidence: much of the surfing illustrations were done with classic surf photos as templates, including Curren’s famous cutback on the yellow-railed board at Off The Wall.

Says Giddings about his books: “[It’s a] heartfelt passion that I have for kids to learn and realize the importance of the ocean as our playground – a place that we can go and get away from life’s difficulties; but also it’s a place that we can just rejoice, enjoy the act of surfing, and protect that asset that we have.”

For more on Harry the surfing bear check out www.harrythebear.com.