The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach

BearAteSandwichcover“By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich.  But you may not know how it happened.  So let me tell you.  It all started with the bear.”

The narrator tells of a happy bear in a forest who finds a truck with baskets of berries in the truck bed.  After the bear eats and falls asleep, the truck drives out of the forest and into a city.

Warm, colorful illustrations (acrylic paint and pencil) tell the story of the curious and playful bear’s journey from the forest to the sandwich.  The illustrations show the bear climbing and exploring, scratching his back on a lamp post, walking through wet cement, and looking for things to eat.  The bear follows his nose to a park and sees the sandwich.

“Your beautiful and delicious sandwich all alone.  He waited to make sure on one saw him (not even the sandwich) before he made his move.  It was a great sandwich.  The bear loved it.”

The bear is surprised to find dogs in the park and runs away — eventually getting back to his home in the forest.

A cute twist in the ending reveals a Scottie dog standing over a scrap of lettuce, telling the story to a little girl.  So who ate the sandwich?  The dog?  Or a bear?  Share this picture book with young children – you’ll all enjoy the fun sandwich-eating bear story.


No by Claudia Rueda

noNo is a fun picture book that celebrates a child’s independent spirit.  Of course, in this case, the child is a brown bear cub.

“It’s time to go to sleep,” said mother bear.

“No,” said little bear.  “I don’t want to go to sleep.”

So begins the story….with mother bear telling little bear that it will get cold, there will not be any food, winter is long, and the snow will be deep.  Little bear responds that he is not cold, he saved some food, he doesn’t mind a long winter, and he loves snow.

The adventurous cub stays out in a snowstorm building a snowman while his mother goes into their cave.  The snow comes down harder, and the wind blows.  Little bear calls out for his mother and looks for their cave.  When he finds her, little bear tells her: “Winter is very long and you might get lonely.”

The last page shows mother bear and little bear snuggled up together in their cave with snow falling outside.

Rueda’s illustrations are large and simple – yet they convey the bear’s emotions, and help tell the story.

This is a good book to share with young children – especially ones who like to do things their own way.

Don’t You Feel Well, Sam?

Don’t You Feel Well, Sam? by Amy Hest, illustrated by Anita Jeram

Don't You Feel Well SamEveryone knows how it feels to be sick with a cold.  And, parents know how they feel when their child is ill.  Ideally, we’d like to drop everything and just hold the sick child, comforting them, and spending quiet time with them.  Sometimes the reality is less than ideal – with the worried parent rushing around changing sheets and pjs (for the really messy kind of sickness), taking temperatures, administering medicine, urging the drinking of fluids and the wisdom of a nap.  But, sometimes, the ideal happens, and we get that quiet, comforting time with our sick child, helping them feel better.

In Don’t You Feel Well, Sam?, we return to the sweet, comforting world of Sam and his mother, Mrs. Bear, from Kiss Good Night.

Mrs. Bear is tucking Sam into bed, and discovers he has a cough.  Mrs. Bear gets cough medicine, but Sam doesn’t want to take it.  Sam says it tastes bad.  Then, the spoon is too big.  Then, there is too much medicine.

Mrs. Bear looks out the window and sees that it will snow soon.  She tells Sam that after he takes his cough medicine, they will go downstairs and wait for the snow together.  Sam takes the medicine.

“He spluttered and snorted and made a big face, and the syrup went down.”

Mrs. Bear and Sam go into the kitchen, light a fire, make tea (with honey), and sit together near the window waiting for snow.  Mrs. Bear tells Sam a story, then tells it again because Sam likes it so much.

“All through the night, Mrs. Bear and Sam sat in the big purple chair and waited.  And finally, it snowed.”

The illustrations compliment the text beautifully – showing everything (house, Sam, Mrs. Bear) in a very loving, cozy way.  One of the last pages shows Sam sitting on his mother’s lap in the big purple chair – both of them asleep – while it snows outside.  The last page shows them outside, building a snowbear together.  A sweet, comforting book to share with a child.


Thinking of Maurice Sendak

Thinking of Maurice Sendak

This week marks what would have been Maurice Sendak’s 85th birthday.  Google even did a little animation showing some of his well-known characters.  Sendak was born June 10, 1928.  He died on May 8, 2012.  Sendak was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1964 (Where the Wild Things Are); the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1970; the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1983; the National Book Award in 1982; the U.S. National Medal of Arts in 1996; and the Astrid Lindgren Award in 2003.

where the wild things are coverSendak’s stories and illustrations have reached children and their parents throughout the world.  They reached my house, too.  My children loved to dance around a room chanting:  “Rumpus!  Rumpus!  Rumpus!” as they held their own wild rumpus across the furniture.  And, they loved Little Bear and his wonderful imagination – often pretending to be on adventures just like Little Bear imagined, like making a space helmet and going to the moon.


where the wild things are max“The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another….” Sendak begins Where the Wild Things Are with Max at home in his wolf suit.  Max is sent to bed without any supper, and imagination takes over.  A forest grows in Max’s room “until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around.”  Max gets into a boat, and sails “through night and day, and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.”  There, he becomes the king and celebrates with the wild things.  Eventually, Max becomes lonely and wants “to be where someone loved him best of all.”  So Max gives up being king, and sails back home – where he finds his dinner waiting for him in his room – “and it was still hot.”

I have some friends who didn’t like Where the Wild Things Are  — or their children didn’t like the wild things.  But it was very big in my house for a long while.

Little Bear coverThe Little Bear books also were big in my house.  These were written by Else Holmelund Minarik, and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and are written for beginning readers (but work as read-alouds too).  Little Bear books are sweet, and full of joys of childhood – and were written in the late 1950s and early 1960s (the first, Little Bear, was published in 1957).  Little Bear has a fantastic imagination – and has wonderful adventures through his imagination.  The grown ups in his world are supportive and loving, and give him enough space to play and have those great imaginary adventures.  I read these books to my children when they were toddlers, and we shared many Little Bear – style imaginary adventures.

Thank you, Maurice Sendak!

What are your favorite Sendak books?


Bear Snores On

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman

Bear Snores OnThis was one of my children’s favorite books when they were toddlers.  It has a little of everything they loved:  animals, suspense, friendship, and text that flows along with rhymes.

“In a cave in the woods, in his deep, dark lair, through the long, cold winter, sleeps a great brown bear.”

So begins this fun picture book.  The bear is doing his hibernation thing in his cozy cave while it snows outside.  There is a loud storm going on, but the bear snores on peacefully in his cave.

A small mouse creeps in to take shelter from the night storm.  He lights a small fire for warmth and light.  Soon, a hare hops in and joins the mouse.  They pop corn and make tea.  The bear snores on.  A badger, a gopher, a mole, a wren, and a raven join the gathering in the cave, which becomes a party.  The bear snores on, until…… a fleck of pepper (they were making stew) makes the bear sneeze.

The bear wakes up.  He is angry and roars and stomps, and growls and grumbles.  The bear is upset that the animals snuck in his cave, and had a party without him.  The mouse offers to have the bear join in the party – they can make more food.

The animals gather around bear and the fire, and listen while bear tells them stories through the night.  The book ends with the bear sitting up, awake, while the other animals sleep – in his arms, and next to him.

Chapman’s warm illustrations bring this story to life.  Young listeners will appreciate the build up to something waking the bear.  And, some might happily supply the biggest Ahhhhhh-choo they can manage when the bear sneezes.  A wonderful picture book.

Henry Climbs a Mountain

Henry Climbs a Mountain, by D.B. Johnson

henry climbs mountain coverThis is a story of Henry David Thoreau and of slavery.  It is a story of hope and freedom.  In this picture book, D.B. Johnson portrays Henry David Thoreau (and other characters) as a bear.

On a trip to town to get a shoe that was being repaired, Henry is stopped by the tax collector and jailed for not paying his taxes.


“Pay a state that lets farmers own slaves?  Never!” said Henry.

Henry stares at the walls and ceiling of the jail cell, then begins to draw a different world.  He draws his shoe, a flower, and a hummingbird….then a tree, a path, and a river.  Henry steps into the picture, getting his feet wet in the river, and continues drawing his way up a mountain.  As Henry climbs and draws, he sings: “The bear goes over the mountain… see what he can see.”

When Henry reaches the top of the mountain, he meets a traveler coming up the other side.  This bear is singing:  “The other side of the mountain…will set me free at last.”  This bear is wearing patched clothing, and a metal band (he has escaped) on one leg.

Henry and the other bear talk and sing on top of the mountain.  When Henry learns that the other bear has a long way to walk (“As far as the star in the North”) and has no shoes, Henry gives the other bear his own shoes.

The bear heads off to the North.  Henry heads back down the mountain without his shoes.

This is a good book for introducing the concepts of slavery and the underground railroad.  When I read this with my young children, they noticed the escaped bear’s metal band and asked many questions about slavery.  This can be a starting point for discussions with older children as well – about slavery, ethics, civil disobedience, and perhaps even about the ways groups of people influence government.

There is a page of biographical information about Thoreau at the end of this picture book.

Thoreau is known for his time spent in the woods near Concord, MA – and his book, Walden.  Thoreau also wrote Civil Disobedience – and his ideas influenced people all over the world including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  Thoreau went to jail for not paying his taxes – in protest to a government that let people own slaves.  Thoreau was an abolitionist and helped slaves escape to freedom.  Thoreau died in May 1862.  Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863.

Jacob’s Tree

Jacob’s Tree by Holly Keller

jacobs tree coverJacob is the smallest in his family.  He is too little to reach the table and see into the bathroom mirror.  Jacob’s mother tells him he’ll be bigger soon.  Jacob’s father measures Jacob on a big elm tree outside their house, painting a mark so Jacob can see how much he grows.

Jacob hates waiting to get bigger.

In the fall, Jacob measures himself against the mark on the elm tree.  He still is the same size.  His father tells him to wait, that he will grow.


“Jacob didn’t want to wait.  He tried to make himself grow faster.  He ate a lot of vegetables because Mama told him that would help.  He took his vitamins, and he drank all his milk.  But when Jacob measured himself again, he wasn’t any bigger.”

Winter comes and snow buries the mark on the elm tree.  Months pass.

jacobs tree he grewOne morning in early spring, Jacob goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth and discovers that he can see into the mirror.  He is very happy.  Jacob’s father measures him again and makes a new mark on the elm tree – Jacob has grown.  He now can reach things, and climb higher, and play with his brother and sister in new ways.

This is a sweet picture book featuring a young bear with a loving family.  It is a good book for sharing with someone who can’t wait to get bigger.


Leaves by David Ezra Stein

Leaves coverA young bear enjoys summer flowers and late summer blueberries.  Life is good.

“Everything was going well until the first leaf fell.”

The young bear is worried, and wonders if the leaf is okay.  When colorful leaves begin falling all over, the bear tries to catch them and put them back on the trees.  But, that doesn’t really work.

The bear grows very sleepy, finds a good spot, and fills it with leaves.  He sleeps through wind and snow until spring.

When he leaves his cave in the spring, the bear enjoys the sun and notices buds on the trees.  As the leaves begin to grow, the bear is happy to see them again.

This is a charming book about a good-hearted bear.  Stein’s colorful illustrations – created with bamboo pen and watercolor paint – show the bear’s emotions and his surroundings in a fun way.  This book also introduces the idea of seasons changing and time passing, as summer gives way to fall, winter, and spring.


Orange Pear Apple Bear

Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

orangepearapplebear coverThis is a sweet, simple picture book for the youngest audience, or for beginning readers.

The story is presented through just five words:  apple, pear, orange, bear, and there.

This book explores the concepts of color, food, and shape.

The lively illustrations convey much about the bear’s playful character.

Each item is presented first on its own orangepearapplebear eatpage, then in combination with other objects.  The bear changes color – taking similar color and shading as the orange and the apple.  The bear takes on the shape and color of the pear.  The bear stacks the fruit and juggles the fruit.  Finally, the bear eats the fruit.



Bear’s Picture

Bear’s Picture by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by D.B. Johnson

Bears-pictureA bear wanted to paint a picture.  He got paper and paints – and starting painting.  He added colors as he felt he needed them.  He happily added orange, blue, and a rainbow he saw.

Two gentlemen out walking saw the bear.

“Bears can’t paint pictures,” said the second fine, proper gentleman.



“Why not?  Why can’t a bear do anything he likes?” asked the bear.

The “fine, proper gentlemen” continued to argue that it was a silly painting and they couldn’t tell what it is supposed to be.  They bear continued painting.

The “fine, proper gentlemen” asked the bear if it was a painting of a butterfly or a clown – because it looked a little like one of those.  The bear told them what he was painting – a honey tree, a forest stream, a hollow log, and a field of flowers.

The “fine, proper gentlemen” said it didn’t look like those thing to them.

“It doesn’t have to,” said the bear.  “It is MY picture.”

The “fine, proper gentlemen” walked away saying that bears shouldn’t paint pictures.  And the bear “looked at his picture…and was happy.”

D.B. Johnson’s illustrations play beautifully with Daniel Pinkwater’s text.  Early in the story, the bear is shown in grayish brown tones, with a little blue in his eyes.  The “fine, proper gentlemen” are in grayish brown tones too.  As the story progresses, the bear adds more colors and images to his painting, and the scarf he is wearing becomes spotted with colorful paint.  The gentlemen remain grayish brown.  The bear’s finished painting is full of colors – and, when turned upside down, looks like a picture of the bear.

A bear, some stuffy gentlemen, paint, and self-expression (never mind what critics say) make for a great book to share with children.