Bear's First Christmas by Robert Kinerk and Jim LaMarche

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Bear's First Christmas by Robert Kinerk and Jim LaMarche

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A heart-warming story in verse about Bear's first winter. It demands to be read aloud and the illustrations are stunning. Recommended as a pre-Christmas read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's
ISBN: 978-1847382733

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It started to snow and a bear, very young,
Caught two or three flakes on the tip of his tongue.

And so starts this heart-warming tale, told completely in rhyme, of how a young bear, some feathered friends and a moose survived their first winter. It was the coming of the snow which told Bear that he would have to find somewhere safe to sleep until spring and eventually he found a cave with a rough stone floor. There he settled to sleep until one day he awoke to the strains of a soft and mysterious sound. Despite the cold and the snow brave bear went to investigate.

It was as well that he did for it wasn't long before he discovered a starving crow and bear knew that he would have to find some food for the bird. Honey revived the bird and Bear was able to continue his journey. Next he met a moose who was trying to scrape ice away from some weeds with little success but Bear's sharp claws had the weeds free very quickly and Moose ate his fill.

Snow had fallen from a branch and crushed the nest of a family of pheasants and they were prepared to follow Bear in the hope of finding somewhere safe to spend the night. And so Bear, Moose, Crow and the family of pheasants walked on through the snow until they discovered the sound which had woken Bear. There, in a well-lit house, a family gathered around a Christmas tree to celebrate.

You have to suspend disbelief with this book. It's hard to accept that a bear confronted by a family of pheasants would have any thought in his mind but 'Dinner'. It's even harder to imagine that the motley crew would settle down together in Bear's cave to see the winter out, but this is what they do. I know, it just wouldn't happen, but forget all that because this is a sweet, heart-warming book.

The illustrations really make it something special. I wanted to hug Bear. No, what I really wanted to do was to go and find him a warm duvet for the winter. The illustrations are realistic – this is no bear wearing twee clothing. This is a real, brown bear and it's only his expressions which are perhaps a little more angelic than you would see in the wild. Similarly Moose, Crow and the pheasants are all accurate representations and they're set against a harsh and startling backdrop. Jim LaMarche has captured the ethereal quality of a landscape covered in snow and the magic of the Christmas celebrations in that setting.

Unusually, I found the text better to read aloud than to read to myself. This is a story that's made for sharing and the sing-song rhythm carries everyone along. I suspect that it's not a book with a long shelf life, but then few Christmas books are, but I think it will be greatly enjoyed in the run-up to Christmas.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For another animal book with a realistic feel we can recommend Where Is Home, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman.

Buy Bear's First Christmas by Robert Kinerk and Jim LaMarche at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bear's First Christmas by Robert Kinerk and Jim LaMarche at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Bear's First Christmas by Robert Kinerk and Jim LaMarche at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Bear's First Christmas by Robert Kinerk and Jim LaMarche at Amazon.com.


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