Little Bear's New Friend

by Else Holmelund Minarik

HarperCollins, April, 2002.
Picture Book, 32 pages.
ISBN: 006623817X
Ages 2-6

Little Bear's New Friend by Else Holmelund Minarik Ms. Minarik, author of the five original Little Bear books, has returned to us with a new tale about the children's favorite, Little Bear and his friends and family. Father and Little Bear are off on a camping trip to Puccing Hill, and Little Bear is so excited that staying still is impossible. Father Bear, with the wisdom of his years, sends Little Bear off to fill the canteen with some water from the nearby stream, and this begins the great adventure.

This story is not so much about a small bear as it is about the things that concern very young children: new acquaintances, dangerous beasts, losing one's parents, spending the night with a friend and reunion with a loving family. Little Bear has all of these adventures when he meets a bear cub who lives in the forest. The two cubs instantly like each other, and Little Bear finds out that Cub has lost his own parents in a storm. This makes Little Bear sad, so he brings the new friend home to spend the night. That night Little Bear thinks of a plan to help Cub find his parents. The next day Little Bear, Cub, Hen, Duck Owl and Cat busily work on signs advertising for lost parents. To everyone's dismay, the signs disappear overnight because the woodlands animals have used them for such things as bird nests. Accidentally, while trying to fish a sign out of the stream, both cubs fell into the water. After much splashing about, they find that they appear to be temporarily lost. But Cub, who knows his way around, leads everyone to his own den for the night. It is while everyone is playing the next morning that they discover that they are being stalked by a hungry mountain lion. The frightened cubs growl back at the mountain lion. The mountain lion now has a turn to be frightened when he notices a huge shadow that comes from something right behind him. It is Cub's father. Soon everyone is reunited and Little Bear promises to visit his new friend. Then, of course, he tells his mother all about it when he gets home.

Heather Green has done a sensitive and tender portrayal of the bear family. Facial expressions do as much to distinguish the traits of the different characters as their conversation and actions. Although the incomparable Maurice Sendak was the illustrator for the first Little Bear books, all of us will nevertheless be very happy to welcome Ms. Green as an intuitive and charming illustrator for our beloved bear family.

-- Sarah Reaves White

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This review was published in the June, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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