Barbara Firth (1928–2013) once said that she felt very lucky to have her career in drawing also be her favorite hobby. When she was three, she began drawing plants and animals, and when she was eleven, her family moved to the country, enabling her to spend even more time sketching the flora and fauna around her.
“I have always been biased toward illustrating natural history, so it was a joy to be able to draw pages and pages of bears,” Barbara Firth said of her collaboration with Martin Waddell on Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?, the first of their classic Big and Little Bear series. As part of her research she spent hours at a zoo, carefully watching and recording the movements and habits of bears. “The first thing I thought about them was that they had such mean little eyes, but of course I had to get rid of that thought immediately as it would frighten the children!”