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Bears Beware

Bears Beware

by Patricia Reilly Giff, Alasdair Bright (Illustrator)

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Mitchell really doesn't want to go camping with the other kids at the Zigzag Afternoon Center. Sleeping in the woods with creepy crawly things, coyotes, and bears? Yikes! But his best friend Habib is going, and it's Mitchell's birthday that weekend. He's just got to find a way to be brave, and scare the bears away!
As the fifth book in the Zigzag Kids


Mitchell really doesn't want to go camping with the other kids at the Zigzag Afternoon Center. Sleeping in the woods with creepy crawly things, coyotes, and bears? Yikes! But his best friend Habib is going, and it's Mitchell's birthday that weekend. He's just got to find a way to be brave, and scare the bears away!
As the fifth book in the Zigzag Kids series—which also includes Number One Kid, Big Whopper, Flying Feet, and Star TimeBears Beware continues to delight readers with award-winning author Patricia Reilly Giff's quirky, lovable group of kids, capturing all the excitement and surprises of new friends and after-school fun.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Patricia Wooster
Mitchell is not thrilled to be going camping on his birthday but the other kids from the Zigzag Afternoon Center are going, so he does not want to miss out. He is worried about sleeping in the woods, strange animals, and poison ivy. How will his parents survive without him for the night? And how will he get his birthday cake? During his animal encounters, campfires, and time spent with friends he discovers camping is not a bad way to spend his birthday. This book is part of the "Zigzag Kids" series that teaches reading skills through a multicultural group of friends who attend an after-school program together. Each child in Giff's book has his or her own distinct personality and realistically portray the emotions and excitement of being a kid. Bright's graphic illustrations of the kids from the Zelda A. Zigzag School bring the characters to life. Kids will enjoy reading about their afternoon adventures and getting to know each and every character. Reviewer: Patricia Wooster
Kirkus Reviews
Mitchell thinks he isn't brave, so an overnight camping trip fills him with worry--and, besides, he doesn't want to celebrate his birthday in the woods. Decorated with cheerful sketches, each slender volume of the Zigzag Kids series highlights one of the children attending the titular afterschool program. In this fifth installment, Mitchell is the focus, surrounded by the familiar cast of characters. Unfolding in short, crisp sentences, the events come quickly and inspire giggles: The bus breaks down, the tent poles break and underwear spills from packs. The Nature Center is rich with flora, but Mitchell is sure that killer animals are lurking. Mitchell may not be bold, but he likes writing stories, so he imagines a character named Gary Bopper, and when he needs a boost of courage, does his best to assume Gary's bravado. Events reach a zenith for Mitchell when he finds himself alone during the scavenger hunt and comes face-to-face with nature's wild beasties. Mitchell realizes that his fancy is more frightening than reality, and the frosting on the cake comes by way of a delicious surprise from his friends. Young readers transitioning to chapter books will find themselves laughing while they empathize. (Fiction. 6-9)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Afterschool Series
Product dimensions:
5.26(w) x 7.46(h) x 0.26(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Read an Excerpt



School was over for the day. Whew!

It was time for the Zigzag Afternoon Center.

Mitchell McCabe darted into the lunchroom. He scooped up a snack from the counter.

It was some kind of bread thing. It had green stuff inside. The green stuff crunched against his teeth.

Mitchell gave his best friend, Habib, a poke. “Weird,” he whispered.

The lunch lady must have heard. “I like to give out surprises all the time,” she said.

“Dee-lightful,” Gina said.

Mitchell and Habib grinned at each other. Dee-lightful was the music teacher’s favorite word. Gina was in love with music.

Too bad she sang like a coyote.

The lunch lady was watching. Mitchell didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He jammed the snack into his mouth.

Habib was juggling his snack. It left little green chunks on the floor. Mitchell watched him swoop down and juggle them up again.

“Come down to the auditorium, everyone,” Ellie, one of the college helpers, called. “There’s news! Great news!”

Mitchell crossed his fingers. “Maybe they’re going to shut down the school,” he said.

Habib stopped juggling. “Really?”

“I saw it on television. A huge snowstorm. Whoosh. No school.”

“It’s not winter,” Habib said. “Not even close.”

Mitchell nodded. Still, this was the best time for school to shut down. His birthday was at the end of the week. He would have the whole week to celebrate.

They passed the outside door. Mitchell looked around. Mrs. Farelli, the art teacher, would have a fit if he went out.

He took a chance. He needed fresh air to get rid of the snack taste.

He opened the door. A gust of air blew in. So did Popsicle sticks, an old homework paper, and—


Enough for a bath.

Mitchell opened his mouth wide to catch a drop. Ahhhhhh!

“Shut the door!” Gina screamed behind them. “I’ll catch the worst cold of my life. My grandma Maroni says I have a weak throat.”

Habib grabbed his neck. “Your throat needs muscles. Take it to the gym.”

“Not funny,” Gina said.

“Listen,” Mitchell told her. “We’re going to hear big news in the auditorium. Who knows? The school might shut down. You could stay in bed all day.”

“Maybe it’s a trip to Hawaii,” Habib said. “You could go away.”

Mitchell slid across the floor. “Look out, waves. Here I come!”


That was Mrs. Farelli. She was on her way down the hall.

She was a great finger snapper.

“Someone is using his outside voice inside the Afternoon Center,” she said.

It was a good thing Mrs. Farelli was standing straight as a stick.

If she looked down, she’d see that homework paper floating in a rain puddle on the floor.

Mrs. Farelli turned. She went the other way.

“Dee-lightful,” Habib said.

They dashed into the auditorium. Mitchell couldn’t wait to hear the news.

His big sister, Angel, was in the front row. She was sitting with her friend Yolanda.

Ellie was standing on the stage.

Mr. Oakley, the grandfather who helped out, stood next to her. He wore his best jacket, with zigzag lines.

And there was Mitchell’s teacher, Ms. Katz, with new purple eyeglasses.

Mrs. Farelli slid into a seat at the end of Mitchell’s row. Her face was serious. And she was looking his way.

Mitchell tried to look serious, too. He frowned hard. His eyebrows half covered his eyes.

Ellie stepped forward. “Here’s our news,” she said.

Mitchell forgot to look serious. He crossed his fingers and his toes.

“No school, please,” he said under his breath.

“Dee-lightful,” Habib said.

Meet the Author

PATRICIA REILLY GIFF is the author of many beloved books for children, including the Kids of the Polk Street School books. Her novels for older readers include the Newbery Honor Books Lily's Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods, and Willow Run, a companion to Lily's Crossing. Her most recent books are the novels Storyteller and Wild Girl, and the first three Zigzag titles, Number One Kid, Big Whopper, and Flying Feet.

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