Cuddly teddy bears, silly pretend bears, and real live bears hold special interest to children. These books about the popular furry creatures will both inform and entertain.
“Moon Bears” by Mark Newman, 2015, Henry Holt, ages 4-8.
Moon bears, or Asiatic black bears, are distinguished from the other seven species of bears by a white crescent shape on their chest. Their cute round ears and gentle face give a cuddly appearance, but adults moon bears can grow to 500 pounds, with two-inch long claws. This informational book describes the habitat and habits of moon bears living in an Animals Asian Foundation conservatory. Color photographs and interesting text will remind children that stuffed bears only superficial resemblance to these fascinating living creatures.
“How to Share with a Bear” by Stephanie Graegin, 2015, Farrar Straus Giroux, ages 4-7.
A young boy’s living room tent is meant to be a quiet place for reading by flashlight. But a pesky younger “bear” wants to join in the fun. When nothing seems to dissuade the bear, the two create a cave that both can enjoy. This story of siblings and sharing teaches an important lesson through simple text and illustrations in muted blues, greens, and golds.
“Lily and Bear” by Lisa Stubbs, 2015, Simon & Schuster, ages 4-7.
While a real friend is fun, an imagined friend might be even better, especially if this friend is a bear. Lily loves to draw, and one day she draws a bear who seems to come to life. First Lily and the bear do what Lily loves, tea parties, drawing, bike rides. Then together they do the bear’s favorite things, picking berries, catching fish, and taking naps under the stars. This sweet story of friendship and imagination is inspired by the author’s daughter’s artwork, displayed on the book’s end papers.
“Bike On, Bear!” by Cynthea Liu, Illustrated by Kristyna Litten, 2015, Aladdin, ages 4-7.
Bear Cub was smart and helpful, but there was one thing he could not do – ride a bike. Though many friends tried to teach Bear, it wasn’t until he put his determination to the test, that Bear could see just what it takes to reach his goal. Pencil, crayon, and digital illustrations depict Bear’s emotions as he strives to think through and practice the skill he so desperately wants to learn.
“Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh” by Sally M. Walker, Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss, 2015, Henry Holt, ages 4-8.
One of the most beloved bears of children’s literature, Winnie the Pooh, was inspired by a real bear at the London Zoo. Winnie, an American black bear, had been orphaned and needed a home. Harry Colebourn, a military veterinarian during WWI, needed a friend. The two traveled with a Canadian regiment through England, but when the troops were called to France, Harry found a home for Winnie at the London Zoo. A small boy, Christopher Robin, befriended Winnie at the zoo, and his father, A. A Milne drew from this friendship to write the Winnie the Pooh stories we know and love today, This touching picture book shares the human-animal bond through historic black and white photographs, soft watercolor illustrations, and descriptive text.
“Mother Bruce” by Ryan T. Higgins, 2015, Disney Hyperion, ages 4-7.
Bruce the Bear is usually grumpy, although he does enjoy cooking and eating, especially eggs. But the eggs he stole from the goose hatch before his culinary skills can kick in, and soon four goslings believe Bruce is their mother. This hilarious bear story supports the old adage, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler