Oh, Philip and Erin Stead… A duo that can do no wrong, in my opinion. Now, I love anything Philip C. Stead writes; they tend to be very sweet friendship stories that you want to turn to again and again. And Erin Stead’s illustrations? They are pleasant and easy on the eyes, yet full of so much detail that you can find something new and delightful with each reading! Put the two together and magic happens, such as with their Caldecott Medal winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee (see my Instagram recommendation here), and today’s book, Bear Has a Story to Tell.
Bear is the friend we all want to have, and the friend we all should aspire to be. He is kind, gentle, and patient. He puts his friends needs before his own desires. He cares about those around him, but takes care of himself too. And when his plans go awry, he stays calm and allows his friends to help him. What a wonderful role model for us all!
In addition to being a wonderful conversation starter as we talk to children about what kind of community members they want to be, Bear Has a Story to Tell can also be used to introduce scientific concepts such as seasons, hibernation, and migration. Follow that with a lesson in storytelling and you’ve covered all your bases with just one book!
Philip’s writing never fails to draw an audience in, and readers feel connected to the characters in Bear Has a Story to Tell on a personal level. From the very first sentence, you understand how weary Bear feels. You slow your voice down, and you speak quietly. You know how much he misses his friends as he helps them settle in for the winter, and you rejoice with him as he welcomes them back in the spring. Then, you feel his disappointment when, after such a long wait, he can’t remember his story! How his friends return his kind favors and help him is sure to bring a smile to even the most tired face.
And Erin’s pencil and watercolor illustrations! Erin’s immaculate details lend a sense of realism to the animals, yet she gives them almost human facial expressions and emotions. As with A Sick Day for Amos McGee, you can always find something new to look at during subsequent reads, something so small you likely overlooked it the first few times.
By the way, the Steads have a new book coming out in March 2019. You can bet I’m pre-ordering that one!
If you liked Bear Has a Story to Tell, check out:
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip and Erin Stead (of course!)
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano (and illustrated by Erin Stead!)
Waiting by Kevin Henkes
Bear’s New Friend by Karma Wilson (or any of Wilson’s Bear books)