THREE to eight-year-olds are in for a treat over Christmas because Waterside Arts are presenting The Bear by Raymond Briggs.

Pins and Needles Productions are already giving children a magical time.

As in most Raymond Briggs’ stories, The Bear centres on a child. This time it is Tilly who is caught up in magical exchanges with a larger-than-life, animal.

The bear is a lifelike puppet, constructed from enormous rings with cuddly white fur on top, by Sam Wyer. It is operated by Lori Hopkins and Maxwell Tyler who also play Tilly’s mum and dad. They bring the giant bear to life.

When he first appears some of the little ones are a bit frightened but they soon come to love him.

Tilly is played by Leigh Quinn who can’t believe it when a polar bear comes through her window. Leigh reacts beautifully to the bear’s actions and her movements are truly childlike.

This bear even has a bath, its bubbles floating into the auditorium. He can be naughty, too. When he does a poo on the carpet and drinks from the toilet bowl, Tilly gets cross.

The show takes place with background music by Lucy Rivers and Tilly likes to sing.

You can hear a pin drop when it is in progress.

An added bonus is that slumber packs can be purchased containing a small bottle of milk and a cookie.

* The bear runs at Waterside Arts Centre until Saturday, January 6 at varying times. For tickets, priced £12.50 - £16.50 call 0161 912 5616 or visit Star rating: * * *