Bear's Last Journey

Overview

Old Bear is very sick. With his animal friends gathered around him, Bear tells them that that he must say good-bye, for he is going on a special journey.
"But...but...you're not dying?" asks Rabbit, and Bear admits that he is. All the animals are saddened by the news, but the little fox is especially upset - hurt and angry and confused. He cannot imagine life without Bear. How Fox and the other forest animals deal with the loss of their friend ...

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Overview

Old Bear is very sick. With his animal friends gathered around him, Bear tells them that that he must say good-bye, for he is going on a special journey.
"But...but...you're not dying?" asks Rabbit, and Bear admits that he is. All the animals are saddened by the news, but the little fox is especially upset - hurt and angry and confused. He cannot imagine life without Bear. How Fox and the other forest animals deal with the loss of their friend is a moving story about death, grieving, and the solace to be found in memory.

All the animals in the forest must deal with the death of their old friend, the bear, when he goes to sleep and never wakes up.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-This gentle picture book succeeds in articulating the sense of loss and confusion that children may feel when a loved one dies. Weigelt's sensitive, straightforward text begins with the gathering of animals in response to the news that "Bear is sick!" As the hare, fox, fawn, and rabbit approach his den, they are cautioned by Badger to be quiet because "Bear needs to rest." Fox is the curious, childlike one. He wonders what is going on, asks Bear where he is going on the "journey" he speaks of, and refuses to believe that his friend is going to die. Frustrated and confused, the little fox seeks out the elderly animal again and they have a discussion about what might happen after death. When Bear dies the next day, the animals gather to close up his home and decorate it with flowers. Fox initially rejects the idea of taking any of Bear's belongings to remember him by, but relents and accepts a token at Badger's urging. Kadmon's paintings, done primarily in shades of blue, green, and brown, evoke the woodland setting and the characters' varying emotions. This thoughtful book would be a good discussion starter and may reassure children that their reactions to events in their own lives are normal and natural.-Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An old bear bids goodbye to his dismayed animal friends, then, after a brief conversation with a young fox about dying and the possibility of heaven, quietly passes away. Using a muted palette to reflect the text's somber tone, Kadmon (Alex Did It!, 2002, etc.) places young-looking, slightly indistinct animals in a peaceful, shaded woodland setting; the effect is serious, but not heavily so. Though books can help children figure out how to think about death and grief, this one does so a bit awkwardly; at the end, the animals share memories of their friend, and Fox takes a ball that belonged to him. But in the final illustration, as they recall how they welcomed him as he would come out of his cave every spring, they all seem to be greeting a new, healthy bear, rather than remembering the old one, and there's no sign of Fox's memento. Simon Puttock's A Story for Hippo, illustrated by Alison Bartlett (2001) treats the topic in a similar, but less visually confusing, way. (Picture book. 5-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735817999
  • Publisher: North-South Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/6/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.72 (w) x 11.56 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

UDO WEIGELT has been writing for children since 1989. He has published many books with North-South.
NINA SPRANGER has been illustrating books since 1999. Her first U.S. book was published by North-South.

Peter Horn was born in Krems, Austria. A schoolteacher, he has articles on literature and film. He and Cristina Kadmon collaborated on one When I Grow Up . . . featuring the little turtle Sebastian and his father.

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