Book of the Week: Little Bear

January 19, 2007

Last night we were reading Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. This is a well-known book series and will probably not be new to many of you. But if you don’t have tis in your child’s library, make an excuse to add it.

Little Bear has a very simple life. He lives with Mother Bear and Father Bear. He visits Grandfather Bear and Grandmother Bear. He has several Animal Friends, like Duck and Cat and Owl. He has small adventures. The whole thing is pretty straightforward, but there are 3 things that I think put this series in my top 10 favorites:

1) Every story and every word that is spoken to Little Bear comes from an atmosphere of total love and acceptance. As a mother, I find I study the books — using them as models of more patient parenting.
2) The black and white drawings, by Maurice Sendak, are perfect. Someone told me that beyond the books Sendak did, there are more stories in the Little Bear series by the same author, but with different illustrations. I haven’t seen them. It’s hard to imagine improving on Sendak’s drawings in any way.
3) Minarik’s writing is a work of art. The stories are engaging enough to read to kids from 2 to 6, but are actually written as books for beginning readers, so the language is simple and children can read the book themselves as they get older. I read these stories over and over and never tire of them.

From what I understand there are 5 original Little Bear books, each containing 4 stories. You can also find compiliations of several books under one cover. I should note: in addition to the books, there is a well-done TV series featuring the Little Bear stories and based on Sendak’s illustrations. I love it. In the same way I study the books, I use the way Mother Bear speaks as an example of how my voice could (and should) be more gentle with my own kids.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous January 19, 2007 at 7:38 am

you are so right, as soon as i saw the picture of the first book, i remembered reading them as a child and as you said how loving and accepting the parents are of little bear. what a wonderful sweet set of stories they are. thank you for post things and reminding me, i will have to be sure to get a copy one day!


2 Anonymous January 19, 2007 at 10:31 am

But some of the stories are a little bizarre, eg, the one about the mermaid.


3 Design Mom January 19, 2007 at 1:08 pm

The mermaid story isn’t ringing a bell. Do you remember which collection it’s in?


4 laurie January 19, 2007 at 2:36 pm

these are favorites in our house too. and i agree with everything you said, gabby. the illustrations are perfect, and minarik’s prose is exemplary. and funny. SO funny! my husband and i frequently get told “too many kisses!”

and i love the tv series almost as much as the books. the humor an the tone are perfect perfect perfect.

thanks for sharing!

ps. i can’t get a newsfeed for your new site. it still takes me to blogspot and then redirects. do you have a new feed url?


5 Anonymous January 19, 2007 at 3:29 pm

i think the mermaid one is just a tv show, not in a book. i could be wrong.

the slow, sweet pace of these books is the best!


6 Anonymous January 19, 2007 at 4:35 pm

the mermaid story, “little bear’s mermaid,” is in the “father bear comes home” book. I asked my five-year-old when she got home from school. she knew right where it was–some of our favorites!

i remember birthday soup the best from when i was little. great stories.


7 liz January 19, 2007 at 5:04 pm

I just picked up a copy at a friend’s house today and though how perfect they would be in our collection. How funny you posted today about- enhances my excitement to find them!

The cartoon is my fav for Zane and was how I was first introduced to it. Glad we can get more LB all day long.


8 christen January 20, 2007 at 3:37 pm

these were some of my oldest daughter’s favorite books!


9 Anonymous January 22, 2007 at 12:09 am

I absolutely loved Little Bear when I was a child, and after my sister was born several years later, she fell in love with the cartoon. They’re definitely ones to add to any collection….


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