Drawing Lessons from a Bear

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A young bear begins to make claw marks on the floor during his usual "how to be a bear" lessons. Soon he's collecting paper and drawing rocks, trees, clouds, birds, and even dinosaurs as he dreams of becoming an artist. With characteristic whimsey and lively watercolors, David McPhail portrays the unusual life of an artist who just happens to have been a bear, and tells how you can be an artist, too.

A bear explains how he became an artist, first experimenting with ...

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Overview

A young bear begins to make claw marks on the floor during his usual "how to be a bear" lessons. Soon he's collecting paper and drawing rocks, trees, clouds, birds, and even dinosaurs as he dreams of becoming an artist. With characteristic whimsey and lively watercolors, David McPhail portrays the unusual life of an artist who just happens to have been a bear, and tells how you can be an artist, too.

A bear explains how he became an artist, first experimenting with simple drawings, then continuing to draw both things around him and things in his imagination. Includes tips for drawing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this uneven picture book about following one's muse, a bear artist remembers the time as a young cub when he discovered his passion for drawing. Divided into two sections, the first, more successful half focuses on the bear as cub, perfectly content with the " `being a bear' lessons" taught by his mother (which include how to sit up straight and how not to drool at the table)--until he develops a love of drawing. While his friends collect tasty treats at the town dump, the hero searches for scraps of paper for his artwork. Encouragement and steadfast support from his mother and teacher, and trips to the local museum, further fuel the bear's creative juices. In the second half, after a rather abrupt transition ("many years have passed "), the grown-up bear realizes that, even after garnering prizes and acclaim, his calling is best fulfilled living in his forest den and drawing pictures (and lighting a creative spark in his young friends). Though McPhail's moral is not as subtle or organic as in his recent Mole Music, his straight-to-the-heart message and inspirational tone make for a winning combination. His gently humorous watercolor-and-pencil compositions depict cozy, loving scenes of a very happy cubhood. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
This is a book about an artist that just happens to be a bear. This bear who lives in a forest recounts how he got started as an artist by scratching marks on the dirt floor of the family den. He also gives some tips to young artists on how to be an artist and what it is like to be one. This friendly bear talks about the need to practice drawing every day, but he does not mention the struggles and frustrations that every artist (especially young artists) encounter. Unfortunately, he implies that fame, medals and prizes, and meeting "kings, queens, and presidents" are all naturally part of an artist's career. The final piece of advice the bear gives the children is for them to just say, "I am an artist!" Maybe that's all you have to do. Just say it. McPhail's illustrations are furry, warm and huggable. 2000, Little Brown, Ages 6 to 8, $14.95. Reviewer: Sally J. K. Davies
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This gentle story combines a humorous tone with warm, cozy watercolors to create inspiration for budding artists. A bear recalls his young years and his development as an artist. His mother indulged his passion for drawing as he went off to school and learned from the art he saw in museums. McPhail, in turn, encourages young artists to develop their talent (and also their discipline) by drawing every day. This is a story, not a how-to book, but the artist cleverly includes lessons from the bear on the endpapers. Children can also observe McPhail's smudges, erasures, and cross-hatchings throughout the book. The illustrations will give students an idea of the work that is involved in creating art. This fine title will find a home anywhere, but will be especially appreciated in classrooms in which youngsters are exploring art and its creation.-Susan Marie Pitard, Weezie Library for Children, Nantucket Atheneum, MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
McPhail, master of bear stories, tells what could be his own in this gentle urging to be true to one's calling. Told in the first person, this life of a gentle bear starts when he is only a cub learning all he can from his mother, but inspired to scratch simple claw marks on the floor of his cave. Eventually, these marks become more accomplished drawings and eventually, the bear actually earns awards and honors for his art. Throughout the little history, important lessons are offered. "As I copied, I discovered things that made my own drawings even better . . . but I always found time to do at least one drawing." And finally, "If you love to draw and you'd rather spend your time drawing than doing just about anything else, I'd say you're well on your way." The low-key but powerful message of personal affirmation that runs throughout is one all parents will welcome and all children appreciate. (Don't miss the drawing lessons on the endpapers, either.) (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316563451
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/1/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

David McPhail has been a passionate artist since the age of two. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and began illustrating books for children in 1972. Since then he has created dozens of beloved books, including the celebrated Mole Music, which was a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, the bestselling If You Were My Bunny, Edward and the Pirates, and Lost! He lives in New Hampshire.

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