The Miracle of the Bears

Overview



A children's tale about the beginnings of life. One spring, waking from a long winter sleep, a young bear finds himself longing for a family of his own. But how to get one?

 He asks advice from an array of animal friends, but none of them really seems to know. Then he meets a female bear, and things look as if they may be heading in the right direction. Wolf Erlbruch's moving illustrations animate this tasteful story with all the colors of plentiful springtime. A lovely and affecting book that will help ...

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Overview



A children's tale about the beginnings of life. One spring, waking from a long winter sleep, a young bear finds himself longing for a family of his own. But how to get one?

 He asks advice from an array of animal friends, but none of them really seems to know. Then he meets a female bear, and things look as if they may be heading in the right direction. Wolf Erlbruch's moving illustrations animate this tasteful story with all the colors of plentiful springtime. A lovely and affecting book that will help introduce children to the wonders of new life.


Wolf Erlbruch is the author of The Big Question, winner of the 2004 Ragazzi Award for children's fiction. He was also recently honored with the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Erlbruch's (The Big Question) bumbling, earnest young bear wakes up from hibernation with a single thought on his mind: fatherhood (that is, after he eats). He lounges casually among the birches, "thinking happily about how he might become a big strong papa bear." But then he realizes that he doesn't know how, and turns in a flash from a competent, devil-may-care prospective father into a dope. "Can somebody tell me how one goes about having a bear cub?" he yells into the forest (a hunter lurks nearby). He finds explanations offered by other animals to be cryptic. The magpie says, "You lay an egg, and you brood it," but of course the bear can't, although he tries, squatting and looking expectantly at his rear. The stork is no help, either. This humorous lead-up gives every sign that the narrative will reveal exactly what it is that papa and mama bears do to make cubs, but Erlbruch retreats at the final moment. A "pretty girl bear" appears and takes the bear off to "a soft place in a glade, in the middle of some long, some very long, grass," and... the book ends right there. Comedy works best if the reader knows something the hero doesn't, and children who don't know how little bears are made may well remain mystified. But the bear's too-big waistline, fuzzy brown coat and long snout seem remarkably human, and older readers in search of a little romance will be charmed. All ages. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
In the spring, a young bear comes out of hibernation desiring to become a papa bear, but not sure how to do it. To answer his question, a rabbit tells him that babies grow in turnip fields. But a magpie notes that you lay an egg and brood it. Needless to say, he can't manage that. A salmon tells him to wait for a stork, but a stork assures him that he has nothing to do with babies. Finally he recalls a story his mother had told him about a "miracle cloud" where bear cubs play before coming into the world. And a sweet young girl bear seems to know all about it as she takes his hand. The happy ending is obvious. The delicately simple story is visualized with appealing naturalistic illustrations of the naive brown bear and the characters he asks for help. Full-page scenes depict his innocence while small vignettes on the text pages add some details missing from those scenes. It is easy to see why Erlbruch has received the 2006 Hans Christian Andersen Award.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Tongue-in-cheek and filled with innuendo, Erlbruch's story parodies the euphemistic approach to the age-old question of where babies come from. In the springtime, awaking from hibernation, a young bear's fancy turns to-fatherhood. The lumpy, congenial creature has a problem, though. "-he just couldn't figure out what you have to do to become a papa bear." Various animals tease him: "Babies, my dear, grow in turnip fields"; "You spread some sugar on the windowsill and wait for the stork." Some children will jeer at all of this. Others, however, will be left in the dark by the vague, suggestive conclusion. The bear remembers a story his mother often told him about a miracle cloud "where bear cubs play before coming into the world." Suddenly a pretty female enters the picture, and in a seductive conversation promises, "If you give me your hand, next spring we could have some marvelous bear cubs." And so, "they went to look for a soft place in the middle of some long, some very long, grass." Aw-shucks. Erlbruch's cartoon drawings of the affable bear and other animal denizens are quite comical and there are some funny lines. Libraries would have to figure out the most likely audience for this goofy romance.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this tongue-in-cheek import, a naive young bear's question about how one goes about becoming a papa gets silly answers from a succession of sly passersby. Though fairly sure that baby bears aren't pulled out of turnip beds, as a rabbit suggests, or hatched like magpies or, as a crafty salmon claims, brought by the stork, he gives each a whirl, with predictable results. Erlbruch captures the tale's wry tone perfectly in his smoothly painted woodland scenes, adding some between-the-lines bits of physical comedy, and in the end mercifully introducing the bear to a female who leads him off into "some long, some very long, grass." Not exactly explicit, but children who already know (or think they know) how to answer bear's query will be rolling in the aisles. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933372211
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/15/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 911,759
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.34 (w) x 11.36 (h) x 0.19 (d)

Meet the Author

Wolf Erlbruch is considered one of Europe's most important illustrators. He has written and illustrated countless books for children and in 2002 was winner of a special career award from German Children's Literature Circle.
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