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Old Bear

Old Bear

3.4 11
by Kevin Henkes

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Come explore the four seasons with Old Bear


Come explore the four seasons with Old Bear

Editorial Reviews

Horn Book (starred review)
“Classically and timelessly simple…another winner for very young children.”
New York Times Book Review
“Kindergartens and preschool classes studying the seasons will no doubt embrace this book.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Elemental words and graceful pacing make this a perfect read-aloud for preschoolers.”
Horn Book
"Classically and timelessly simple…another winner for very young children."
"Elemental words and graceful pacing make this a perfect read-aloud for preschoolers."
Pamela Paul
…story and minimal text [are] finely pitched to a toddler's level…Exquisite.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In time for autumn, Henkes (Kitten's First Full Moon) masterfully tells of a hibernating bear who "dreamed that spring had come and he was a cub again." Henkes's surefooted art guides readers through time: a terracotta dust jacket and acorn-brown frontpapers inked with dark brown leaves set the season. The tawny bear, pictured in full-page or four-to-a-page images, curls in his den, his eyes closed and his paws relaxed. Full-bleed spreads depict his dreams, first of being small among enormous flowers ("He took a nap in a giant pink crocus"), then of wandering on lush green summer hillsides ("The sky clouded over, and it rained blueberries"). His hibernation vision of fall includes rust-colored birds and orange fish, and his imaginary winter is a cool blue expanse under stars "of all colors." When the bear's eyes open on a real spring day, he feels refreshed, if larger and older than his dream self. Lyrically describing the young-at-heart, Henkes plays an artist's game of hot and cold watercolor hues. Lilac endpapers crowded with flowers and butterflies and a back cover image of the bear in springtime balance the cover's imagery and gently and calmly acknowledge the annual cycle. Ages 2-7. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal


Henkes cleverly begins his story on the front jacket. Against a backdrop of red leaves and drifting snowflakes, a large and endearing molasses-colored bear, defined by sturdy dark brown lines, strides across the page. His journey continues through the opening spreads: it is obvious that this creature knows exactly where he is heading. By the time the story actually begins, Old Bear has found his den and lies sound asleep, oblivious to the swirl of winter around him. Dreams comfort him: once more a cub and surrounded by the colors of spring, he naps in a giant pink crocus. His dreams turn to summer where a daisy sun shines in the sky, leaves appear as butterflies, and clouds rain tasty blueberries. Old Bear dreams on through the seasons. Then, one day he awakens, stretches, and heads out into the real world where he is met with flowering trees, butterflies and tulips, and a glistening lake. Now, Old Bear is part of the wonder. As he did in Kitten's First Full Moon , Henkes has created a thoroughly delightful character filled with curiosity and sweetness and placed him in a simple tale that unfolds with a natural, rhythmical pace. And to fill out his cyclical story, the artist provides autumnal front endpapers and contrasting vernal back endpapers. Opportunities to introduce the seasons, colors, and animal hibernation abound. Old Bear will enrapture young listeners for years to come.-Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA

Kirkus Reviews
When Old Bear sleeps, he dreams of being a cub and of the changing seasons. When he wakens and steps out into the soft pastels of Henkes's spring, he does not feel the passage of time, and in expression and carriage he exudes youthfulness. Many careful choices are made in a book that only seems uncomplicated. As bears go, smiling Old Bear looks as friendly as the teddies children cherish. His benign but shaggy appearance will invite them to learn many concepts, in the gentlest and most implicit way: youth and age, hibernation and renewal, the passage of seasons. Watercolor-and-ink paintings are bright but delicately hued. Bear's bold outline changes with the palette of each season. His fanciful dreams, as well as the spring "reveal," are full bleed, double-page spreads while other illustrations are neatly framed, emphasizing the ursine bulk. Confident, harmonious and sweet. (Picture book. 2-6)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
Up to 2 Years

Meet the Author

Kevin Henkes is the author of Sun & Spoon, Bird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Book Olive's Ocean. He also writes and illustrates picture books, and among his many titles are the national bestsellers My Garden, Old Bear, A Good Day, and Kitten's First Full Moon, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Henkes is also the creator of a series of books starring mouse characters, including Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Lilly's Big Day, Wemberly Worried, Chrysanthemum, and Owen, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Brief Biography

Madison, Wisconsin
Date of Birth:
November 27, 1960
Place of Birth:
Racine, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Old Bear 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
psycheKK More than 1 year ago
I'm not a big fan of all Kevin Henkes' books, but, lately, his picture books have been astonishingly lovely.  Old Bear, like Kitten's First Full Moon, is a sweet, gentle tale, but unlike Kitten, Old Bear is at the end of his life and he dreams about becoming a cub again. He first dreams that Winter has passed into Spring and that he is sleeping inside a giant crocus. Kevin Henkes takes us through the rest of the seasons with the same amount of imagination, humor and brilliant-hued illustrations. Even the fly-leafs boast outstanding artwork.  After Kitten and Old Bear, I can't wait to read (and probably buy) his next picture book.
EagleRockMom More than 1 year ago
This book was given to my son as a gift and we have delighted in reading this sweet tale ever since. 
startemeyer More than 1 year ago
My two year old loves this book. We read it again and again! It is a permanent fixture on our coffee table. Kevin Henkes always delivers a great read. "Kitten's First Full Moon" was my oldest son's favorite. I would recommend anything by this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kevin Henkes never disappoints. My two year old nephew was glued to the beautiful illustrations. A simple, but lovely portrayal of the four seasons.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Bears are the most wonderful animals on Earth. They dream on Winter to be happy, as they are in Winter too, same as the rest of the year, sharing with their brothers.