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The Bear under the Stairs
     

The Bear under the Stairs

by Helen Cooper
 

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There's no mistaking it--William has seen a bear under the stairs, and he worries about it day and night. He wonders what a bear eats and decides that he had better keep that old bear well fed. A charming story about dealing with a childhood fear. Full color.

Overview

There's no mistaking it--William has seen a bear under the stairs, and he worries about it day and night. He wonders what a bear eats and decides that he had better keep that old bear well fed. A charming story about dealing with a childhood fear. Full color.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Anyone who's ever suffered an irrational fear will sympathize heartily with William, who's convinced that a grizzly bear lurks in the closet beneath the stairs. His apprehension blossoms to the point where he begins saving morsels from meals and tossing them quickly into the closet (``wham, bang, thump!'') as tokens of appeasement. Finally, his mother sniffs out the problem (literally), and tackles it head-on, sending William's fear packing (and the bear as well--a tongue-in-cheek final illustration shows the grizzly parachuting into new territory, carpetbag in hand). Cooper's sunny approach to a common childhood anxiety is bolstered by deft use of light and shadow in her soft-focus watercolor and pencil art, which visually reinforces the elusive, imaginary nature of William's concern. Ages 3-7. (June)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-William is scared of bears and the place under the stairs. Ergo, it is easy for him to convince himself that a bear lives there. To appease the animal, the boy tosses it leftover table scraps. Eventually, the inevitable occurs, and a strange aroma pervades the house, prompting his mother to investigate. She and William open the door to find an old furry rug, a broken chair, horrible stinky food strewn everywhere...but no bear. Or is there? For, skulking in the shadows and sneaking off into the distance, a bear can be seen, and, disappearing along with it, are William's fears. While Dick Gackenbach's Harry and the Terrible Whatzit (Clarion, 1979) and Mercer Mayer's There's a Nightmare in My Closet (Dial, 1985) remain the definitive explorations of a child's imagination run rampant, Cooper does a nice job. The somber, homey illustrations, combined with an offbeat rhyme scheme, capture the slightly skewed world of a youngster's surmountable fear.-Anna DeWind, Milwaukee Public Library
Stephanie Zvirin
In Cooper's version of a familiar picture-book theme, the object of a child's dread is a grizzly bear, which young William is convinced lives in the storeroom beneath the stairs in his home. William never sees this bear, but he imagines him huge, and fierce, and brown, with bloody fur and dripping claws. Fearing he'll be Bear's lunch one day, William, "his eyes shut tight," begins tossing food into the storeroom--and it's the smelly scraps, not the bear, that Mom and William find when, together, they open the forbidding door. The dappled watercolors tell the story not only of the brave, scared boy, but also of the pesky, mischievous bear. There are no sugary undertones in either text or illustrations. The human figures are actually a trifle stiff, and the color scheme is rather somber. That William's bear escapes to bedevil someone else (it's not entirely clear whether he's real or just imagined) is not a comforting idea, but it's nicely balanced by the portrait of William peacefully asleep, his new toy bear by his side.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803712799
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/19/1993
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
7.68(w) x 10.53(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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