CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 22. . . .February 8, 2013
When Jenny finds Bear at the bottom of an old trunk in the attic, she immediately wants to hug and cuddle him—which is just fine with Bear. However, Jenny's mother knows that Bear is very old, and she suggests that he'd be better suited to the high shelf in Jenny's room, a shelf reserved for special toys. Being placed there displeases the stuffed toy because he knows, as Jenny instinctively did, that bears, no matter their age, are for hugging and cuddling. As the porcelain doll, giraffe figurine, and broken jack-in-the-box on the special shelf try to convince Bear of the merits of being safely out of reach, he comes up with a plan to get closer to Jenny and share the hugs he was meant to share.
Helmer has created a sweet and simple story wonderfully suited for bedtime bonding. The repetitive action and message feels natural and warranted. There is nothing new or original in this tale, but it feels as warm and comfortable as a hug from the titular character. There is time to build a sense of empathy for Bear and a genuine pleasure in his ultimate success. I appreciated Bear's limited animation—a purposeful tumble here, a subtle smile there— because it was just enough to be believable to a young child.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children's literature.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.