A TEDDY bear with a difference has gone on sale in the past few days and is expected to be a big hit with Gaelic speaking youngsters and the young-at-heart.
Lewis-based publishers Acair have now taken delivery of the special teddy – an interactive Gaelic-speaking bear which teaches children 33 words – and are warning customers to order early to avoid disappointment as stocks are limited.
A prototype of the talking bear was on show at the Royal National Mod in Stornoway last year and again this year in Dunoon, but the final stages of production in China took some time.
Acair said it looked like the bear would be popular, with orders having already been taken from Canada, England and all over Scotland.
Agnes Rennie, Acair manager, said: “He came off the ferry on Wednesday (November 7th) and we are delighted with him. It’s for all the family; for everyone from babies to grannies.
“For anyone with children or with an interest in the language who want to get a grasp quickly of 33 Gaelic words in common usage – this is the toy.”
The educational teddy – a colourful bear which will help teach youngsters the Gaelic words for colours, numbers and shapes – was originally developed by an Irish company, Bàbòg.
The original bear appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2010 ‘alongside’ fellow Irishman Dara O Briain who told the chat show host, as he struggled to repeat the Gaelic words: “The bear is right – you are wrong!”
Bàbòg has also won numerous awards in Ireland and Acair worked with the company to develop a Scottish version with support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
The 12-inch bear has three settings and will say particular colours, numbers or shapes depending on the setting and which button is pressed – there are buttons on its ears, paws, feet and tummy.
And he doesn’t speak Gaelic with an electronic America accent either. Instead, he has the voice of a young Lewis girl – five year old Iona Maclean from High Borve.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig Head of Education and Learning, Mary MacMillan, commented on the project: “The development of new resources for the early years sector is a main priority for Bòrd na Gàidhlig and has been highlighted in the National Gaelic Language Plan.
“We believe that learning a new language while young should be fun, and we are delighted to assist Acair in creating whit new interactive toy to help young children across Scotland in learning Gaelic.”
Ms Rennie added: “It’s something very hands-on – a tangible tie-in with what we do in terms of books and products for young children.”
The bear – who is named Bàbòg (Baby) – can be purchased directly from Acair (7 James Street, Stornoway) at a cost of £30, or £35 if he has to be posted.
To guarantee delivery by Christmas, orders should be placed by December 6th if the teddy is to go overseas, and by December 14th for delivery within the UK.