My first experience of this was with my daughter Tilly aged two or three with this brilliant and engaging pop-up book. I have no idea how my times I read it - definitely dozens, possibly hundreds. Enough that a decade ago I knew the whole thing off by heart and that even now I can recite full lines. "Where oh where can that little bear be? And why, oh why, has he gone?"
Tilly could recite it too, and she pulled the various pop-up bits until they broke. Which, I suspect, is why the book failed to enchant either of the other children in quite the same way.
Reading to young children at bed time is about as good a bonding experience as you can have. They, and I, loved the quiet personal time and intimacy and I hope it also ingrained in them a love of books and story-telling that will stay with them a lifetime. It's tougher for them than it was for earlier generations, there are far more screen-based distractions than there were, not to mention the fact that their friends are always available through various instant messaging. Unless you're reading to your kids, reading is a quiet, personal and intimate experience. Modern life doesn't seem to respect or provide such experiences.
The beauty of this particular book was to be found in the simple lyricism of the language, which had a gentle rhythm to it that was perfect for the wind-down necessary at bed time. And this was matched by simple but beautiful illustrations. The story is straightforward - Kipper the dog, who features in a number of other works by Mick Inkpen, has lost his teddy bear and heads off on a trip around the house to find it. For some reason this trip also takes in the "pinky, purple bleeper people living on the moon". (A tough line to get right). And the reader open cupboards and looks in chests of drawers until the bear is eventually located under the bed clothes where a real flash light appears.
I had a similar experience with Jamie and the Lost Bird by Clare Jarrett that Agnes and I knew both knew verbatim for a few months, and read countless other stories to the children over the years. But Kipper and the lost bear will always be the first and best.