Two Bears – Picture Book Bears, That Is

Lynn:  When I looked back over our posts, I noticed that we seem to be drawn to bears – picture book bears anyway.  From bears with sniffles to baby panda bear kindergarten, we’ve got bears everywhere.  I’m not sure if that says something about us or about picture book illustrators but we’re adding to our collection today with two more adorable bear books.


Bear Has a Story to Tell (Roaring Brook/Neal Porter 2012) by Philip Stead brings us sleepy chubby Bear who is looking for someone to listen to his story.  But it is fall and all his friends are busy getting ready for the winter.  Duck is getting ready to fly south, Mouse is tunneling underground and Frog is looking for a warm place to sleep.  Then the snowflakes begin to fall and Bear has to curl up in his den for the winter too.  When spring comes, Bear’s friends are waiting for him to wake up and tell them his story.  And then – oh no!  Bear can’t remember the story he wanted to tell after all this time!  (Hmmm – THAT sounds familiar!)  Not to worry though, Bear’s friends gently help him and his story begins.

Bear is adorable – fuzzy, round and sleepy – oh so sleepy!  Just looking at the cozy illustrations will start readers smothering yawns themselves.  This lovely story quietly reflects on the changing seasons, animal adaptations and friendship.  The wonderful illustrations and text are ideal for sharing – and snuggling – with small children.  Great for pairing with a nonfiction book on the seasons or animals in winter for a Common Core lesson on comparing and contrasting too.

Bear in the BookCindy: Bear theme storyhours were always my favorite when I worked as a children’s librarian at Oak Lawn Public Library (Ill.) back in the mid 80s but that’s because there were so many good bear stories to choose from but it seems that good bear stories are never out of fashion. The Bear in the Book (Farrar/Frances Foster 2012) by Kate Banks is another gem, and one that celebrates the sharing of stories much as my storyhours did. A young boy pulls his favorite book from his shelf and looks at it before handing it to his mother to read to him at bedtime. The book looks just like the book telling this story and many of the spreads look over the shoulders of mother and son as they read the story of a bear preparing to hibernate for the winter. As the mother reads the familiar text the boy chimes in with “Shh,” and questions and comments and points out colors and animals and other things. For a first-time parent, this is a pretty wonderful and subtle primer for how to share a book with a child.

Georg Hallensleben’s paintings are charming and add to the warmth of the book, even when he is depicting snowy scenes. He blends the magic of the book with the magic of the tender ritual of parent and child is scenes that make you want to find a child to read to NOW. This will make a wonderful gift book as well as become a storyhour staple. And, as with Lynn’s offering, this can be used in the classroom.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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