________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 9. . . .October 28, 2011


Big Bear Hug.

Nicholas Oldland.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-464-7.

Subject Heading:
Bears-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Karyn Miehl.

**** /4



There once was a bear so filled with love and happiness that whenever he roamed the forest and came across another living thing, he would give it a hug.

...He even hugged creatures that bears have been known to eat. This bear could meet the roundest little rabbit, and he would just stop, smile and give it a great big hug.


Throughout this tale, the love-filled bear hugs a variety of animals (rabbit, moose, bird, snake, skunk, beaver) and trees. It is only when the bear encounters a man with an axe, set on cutting down a "magnificent tree," that the bear's desire to give a hug is challenged. In the end, the bear kindly (and unintentionally) scares the man away and gives one final hug to the magnificent tree.

internal art     I just love this story. The text is simple and straightforward, and the illustrations are the same. This charming tale is light-hearted and slightly humorous, as when the bear was "trying to hug a beaver and a tree at the same time." The accompanying illustrations to the bear's hugs are light-hearted as well, with the animals' comical facial expressions as they receive their hugs, and the man's, too, when he encounters the bear. This story also brings forth the message of the power of a hug.

      Pre-reading activities, for parent or teacher, could include a discussion of what types of animals fit those described in the story (big, small, smelly, scary -- children can then read the story to determine if animals they've thought of make an appearance in the story). The second-last page of the story also offers a prediction question (And do you know what the bear did next?), which allows children to make educated guesses based on what they know of the bear from the rest of the story. Big Bear Hug could also be tied in to Earth Day discussions and activities as the bear models kindness to nature and all that it encompasses.

      Big Bear Hug is an enjoyable and charming read for child and parent alike. I have to say it again: I love this book!

Highly Recommended.

Karyn Miehl, a mother of two and a secondary school English teacher, lives in Kingsville, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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