The Perfect Bear

( 2 )

Overview

There once was a bear

who ...

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Overview

There once was a bear

who was very fine.

He was so polished

and clean

and proud.

And that made him the

Do Not Touch bear.

As time passed,

he become worn

and gray

and much less fine.

But he was also loved by a little girl.

And that made him

the Perfect Bear.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

If the Velveteen Rabbit first had to overcome a horror of being handled, that classic could become this more didactic and sentimental tale. Writing in spare prose, from the point of view of a "very grand" white stuffed bear with a music box inside him, Shields (The Starlight Baby) emphasizes the old cliché that "it's what's inside us that's important." Blythe's (The Whale's Song) astonishingly realistic oil paintings leaven the misty-eyed story. He subtly changes the bear's expressions as his owner, a girl, breaks and then discards his music box and sews up his fur with black stitches. The three-hankie plot, on the other hand, can go over the top: lamenting his now-shabby appearance, the bear's "brown eyes [gleam] as if they had tears in them." In the end, the bear is lost and reunited with "his girl": "He had the oddest feeling in the empty place where his old music box had been. It was... love." Many readers will lap this up. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1- In the sentimental tradition of Margery Williams's Velveteen Rabbit and Don Freeman's Corduroy (Viking, 1968), Shields offers a story about a child's affection for a stuffed toy. A bear, given to a young girl as a gift, believes that his name is "Do Not Touch" (he had been sitting next to a sign with this message in the shop). He has soft white fur, a little red hat, and a "magic key" on his chest that, when turned, plays a song. Proud of his "finery," he is indeed untouchable, but the girl doesn't understand and plays with him anyway. Over time, he becomes worn and dirty. The bear is sad about his appearance, but the old pink rabbit on the top shelf explains that it is "better to be loved than admired." When the bear is lost in a department store, he realizes that he misses the girl. The tale unfolds in a straightforward manner and comes to the predictable conclusion that love is what you feel on the inside. The oil paint illustrations are stronger than the time-worn sentiment. The pages are filled with soft, painterly depictions of the characters and glow with cuddly warmth. Though there is nothing new here, libraries in need of more tales about beloved stuffed animals can consider this as an additional purchase.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

Kirkus Reviews
Shields's affecting tale chronicles an arrogant toy's transition from revered object to beloved companion. Upon his arrival at the home of a young girl, the stuffed bear-very conscious and proud of his immaculate finery-is appalled when his new owner wants to actually play with him. With sly humor Shields details the bear's disgruntled indignation as he endures being splashed with paint, given an impromptu bath and the like. However, when the now shabby bear becomes separated from his girl in a store, he experiences an epiphany, discovering that a person's-or stuffed bear's-worth cannot be measured by such superficial merits as their appearance. Blythe's full-color oil paintings are brimming with rich detail and texture. His expressive illustrations of bear employ subtle nuances, which perfectly illuminate the bear's persona and his emotional transformation. At the center of this whimsical tale is a gently reassuring message regarding the nature of love and acceptance that young readers will embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416953630
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Gillian Shields was born and brought up in England, where she studied English and worked in a drama school for several years. She now looks after her family and teaches English and drama part-time, as well as writing for children. Her first book, Ben and Gran and the Whole, Wide, Wonderful World, was published by Macmillan in London. The Starlight Baby is Gillian's first book for Simon & Schuster.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2008

    Truly wonderful

    A beautiful story enhanced by near perfect, insightful ilustrations, this book will surely establish itself as a long-term classic

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    childrens book lover

    I just loved this book!! The story has a beautiful message of what is important is what is inside our hearts and not so much of what is on the outside. This book speaks of the love we should have for each other regardless of the situations we face. I recommend this book should be placed on the bookshelf right beside the Velveteen Rabbit.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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