Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe

Brother Hugo and the BearCindy: The tired excuse of, “The dog ate my homework” is tame compared with “The bear ate my library book.” Especially considering that Brother Hugo and the Bear (Eerdmans 2014) is apparently based on fact! This funny, charming, and gorgeous picture book is also informative. Beebe bases her story on a note found in a text at the Bodleian Library in Oxford describing an “unfortunate incident” that Peter the Venerable had with a manuscript he borrowed after it got eaten by a bear. Together author Katy Beebe and illustrator S. D. Schindler illuminate for readers the early book making process from stretching and scraping a sheep skin, plucking a goose for a feather to use as a pen, to the laborious process of hand copying the replacement text after making ink. This is a fun way to reinforce the idea of book stewardship. Imagine the illustrated stories that children could write about their own overdue library books…the possibilities are endless!

Lynn:  Cindy is SO right!  What a writing prompt this book will make!  All you librarians who have been pushed into teaching “technology” should grab this and kill multiple standards with one whack – and get to recommend books as well!  It’s a fabulous book to use with kids in all the ways Cindy mentions and, more importantly, it is just plain fun.  I am completely smitten with it and can’t wait to share it with the focus group.  The older members will love the intricate illustrations and the wonderful historical notes and Henry will love the bear and the story.  Me?  I love it all especially the Author and Illustrator notes – a peek behind the creative scene.  This is a beautiful and charming piece of book-making from every aspect.

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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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