Tops in our falling apart, cracked spine “I Can Read” collection, and next is the New Year, Old You series is the Little Bear collection. Some of my all time favorite stories (Else Holmelund Minarik) and illustrations (Maurice Sendak) come from these tattered pages. The Goblin Story from Little Bear’s Visit, with its dramatic “the pit – pat – pit – pat came closer, closer – CLOSER” line is so much fun to read aloud. Little Bear Goes To The Moon from Little Bear is a lovely tribute to a child’s imagination and unwavering belief in his own abilities. And then there is the the touching final chapter of Little Bear’s Friend, in which our young hero must learn how to say goodbye.
As delightful an adventurous scamp as Little Bear is, I think the most fun is in the quirky cast of characters he surrounds himself with. There is gruff Father Bear, who in the Hiccups chapter of Father Bear Comes Home glares up from his newspaper and demands “How can I read with all that noise?” (Quick side note for my younger blog readers – the “newspaper” I referenced is an old fashioned printed source of current events, and the predecessor to the cell phone in parental tools used to ignore pesky children.) There is ornery Hen from A Kiss from Little Bear, whose exasperated “Too much kissing” line to the amorous skunks is still a favorite family quote. There is Emily, from Little Bear’s Friend, who for reasons left unexplained appears to live with her family in a tent down by the river (perhaps next to her uncle Matt Foley). Finally of course there is Mother Bear, who always comes across as the good cop (thank you, Else Holmelund Minarik).