Bear Picture Books!

Recently, I've noticed a bunch of fun bear-centric picture books. Although they seem to be the new "it" character (like penguins were for awhile), bears have always been mainstays in picture books.  Here's a roundup of great bear picture books, both classic and new:

New or Newish Bear Books

Cover of Goldilocks and Just One Bear
Goldilocks and Just One Bear, by Leigh Hodgkinson (Candlewick Press, 2011) This is a delightful story of a bear who is lost in the big city and ends up in a penthouse apartment. He sit on chairs that are too hard and too soft; he tries to eat porridge that is too soggy or too crunchy; he tries to find just the right bed. Cleverly, the illustrations show that the things he is trying out are very different from the text (the "chairs" turn out to be cacti and a cat; the "porridge" is a fishbowl or cat food). In a neat twist, the family comes home and the golden-haired mom looks awfully familiar to the bear.

Cover image of No Bears
No Bears, by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Rudge (Candlewick Press, 2011). In this cute meta-story, Ella explains what makes a good book (one with pretty things, fairies, funny, exciting, and scary things), while emphasizing that, no matter what, there are NO BEARs in the story. Of course, a bear in a flowery housedress and deadpan expression lurks in every page and sometimes even helps Ella move the plot forward.

Cover of Bear Despair picture book
Bear Despair, by Gaëtan Dorémus (Enchanted Lion Books 2012) In this wordless picture book, a wolf takes a bear's teddy bear, which is not a good idea. The bear is so determined to get its teddy bear back that he chases down the wolf and all subsequent animals that taunt him or take away the bear, gobbling them up one by one. Drawn in cross-hatched ink, the illustrations are primal and emotive, but never really scary, and rest assured, there's a happy ending.

Cover image of I Want My Hat Back
I Want my Hat Back, by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press, 2011) Already a modern classic, this is the story of another bear who has lost an object, this time a hat. He persistently asks every animal he meets whether they have seen his hat, until he recalls that the rabbit he asked earlier who denied seeing his had in fact was wearing it. Be warned that this book has a happy ending for the bear, but not so much for the rabbit.

Perennial Classics

Cover of We're Going on a Bear Hunt
We're Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Margaret K. McElderry Books, anniv. ed. 2009, original 1989) Based on a song for young kids, a father takes his four kids on a bear hunt. The rhythms are great and fun to chant: "We're going on a bear hunt/ We're going to catch a big one. / What a beautiful day./ We're not scared." The illustrations are beautiful panoramic paintings and drawings that take the family through swamps and woods until they finally find a bear, to their great panic and dismay.

Cover of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle (Henry Holt, 1996) The definitive board book for toddlers and babies, this book lets parents and caregivers teach animals, sounds, and colors in a fun and playful way. Our board book went through two children and many stains and scuffs, and my younger daughter (who is 8 now) refuses to donate it, so it still sits on her shelf.

Cover image of Kiss Goodnight
Kiss Goodnight, by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram (Candlewick, 2004) It's dark and stormy outside, but Sam's mother puts him to bed in a comforting routine: she reads him a story, tucks him in with his blanket and friends, and share a glass of milk. Sam keeps saying, "I'm waiting," until she reviews "book, blanket, friends, milk. . ." and remembers the most important part of all, the kiss goodnight. This is a great story to read to toddlers because it is so calming and cozy and you can kiss along, as the mom kisses Sam, once, twice, and twice more.

What's your favorite bear picture book?

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