Age Range: 2 to 6 (and beyond)
The Story: Told in first person point-of-view, a bear introduces the reader to himself, to his likes and his dislikes, to his good side and his not-so-good side, and finally to his fears and insecurities.
Although this is a very short picture book, it says so much! The story starts by the bear proclaiming his confidence, “This is me… I like myself,” and proceeds to mention his shining attributes. “I like the small things in life… and the big ones too.” To illustrate this line, one spread shows the bear with a little bird and the next shows him at a fancy restaurant with a big plate of fish. He also speaks several languages, feels comfortable around the world, etc. But he is not perfect. He says he likes to share, but only gives one candy away while holding a big bag full of sweets behind his back.
The story reaches a turning point when he admits, “But on somedays… I feel awfully lonely… and small.” The reader and child can sympathise with the bear and how we can also go from feeling very good about ourselves to feeling lost. So what does the bear do? He sets off running, he runs several spreads until he arrives back in the forest with another bear, and they hug one another. Although the story starts off all about “me”, it ends on the emphasis of finding “you.”
Not only did I read this story to my children countless times throughout their younger childhood years, but I recently re-read it to my 13-year-old after she had had a bad day. I appreciate how Waechter subtly illustrates how it is so wonderful to be yourself, to be original, and to go out on your own, all the while knowing that someone special is always waiting for your return when you need some extra love and support.
Author / Illustrator: Philip Waechter
Michelle Nott is the author of Freddy, Hoppie and the eyeglasses (an early reader from Guardian Angel Publishing). She is also a freelance editor and writer with articles and stories appearing in numerous online and print publications. She has also written poetry which has been published in literary magazines and recognised by Writer’s Digest. She currently writes picture books through middle grade stories.
Congratulations to Michelle on the publication of ‘Freddy, Hoppie and the Eyeglasses’.