I have a few non-negotiable criteria when I’m looking for a new bedtime book to read with my kids and The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud exceeds my expectations on all counts.
This book is my kids’ and my own current favorite bedtime story. The art is reminiscent of Richard Scarry’s busy world–only more artful than cartoony–making it fascinating for the kids. They quietly listen as I read because they’re so mesmerized by the images. Plus, the book isn’t too wordy which means it’s absolutely re-readable; one of my essential requirements. Plus the plot is adventuresome, and our favorite part is to try to find Papa Bear and Baby Bear on every page.
Oh, and the bee. We have to find the bee.
The story goes that Papa Bear wakes up from hibernation to find that Baby Bear has run off, chasing a bee. The bee flies all the way to an opera house, where the bears chase each other through the dressing rooms and onto the stage during a performance. Papa Bear sings his bedtime song to junior, terrifying the audience. Of course, they end up happily reunited amid the honeybees on the roof of the opera house.
Even though this story is kind of slapstick-y and silly, the ending is really very sweet. I love the emphasis on adventure and family togetherness, which seems to be such a struggle for so many families I know, what with the never-ending sports practices and music lessons and camps. It’s also sparked some conversations with our kids about why the bears are misunderstood and how it’s possible for us to misjudge our friends or classmates who might come across as loud and obnoxious, or just different from us.
Also, there’s something special about any book celebrating a bond between a dad and his kids. Even if the kids are cubs.