I look forward to kicking off each month with a review of a series, collection, or list of related titles. Think of it as a package deal for my fellow readers. I’ll begin with a favorite in our family: the Bear and Mouse books, written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
The series begins with A Visitor for Bear; it sets the premise for the whole series, though the books follow no sequence and could easily be read independently of one another. Bear, a very particular sort of fellow, leads a comfortable and solitary life in his cozy home. He is not prepared to become friends with the cheerful and persistent Mouse, who drops in unexpectedly one morning on his well-ordered domicile. Bear tries to dismiss this unwelcome companion, but soon finds how much more pleasant it is to enjoy life with a friend.
Once Mouse and Bear have shared that first pot of tea their subsequent adventures always begin the same way: the grumpy Bear at home, interrupted by a knock on the door from his exuberant little friend. Bear’s resistance to Mouse’s arrangements for birthday parties, sleepovers, holidays, and library trips begins to sound familiar, and we realize that perhaps there is a little bit of Bear in all of us. How easy it would be to stay within the familiar comfort of our own home! But like Bear, little readers are assured that it is worthwhile to step outside our own front doors, to make friends and to celebrate life together.
The relationship between Bear and Mouse is humorous and charming, and their experiences are gently encouraging. Becker’s text is intelligent and expressive, making any of these tremendous fun to read aloud. The illustrations are soft and sweet, warmly inviting us into Bear’s lovely home (I can’t be the only adult who would like to live there). Additionally, Candlewick Press publishes gorgeous books, so the color and balance of the words with the pictures and even the weight of the paper makes these books delightful to read. Since they indirectly address an array of childhood experiences in no particular order, these would make splendid occasion gifts from grandparents or other relatives who want to help build a nice collection over time. They are appropriate for toddlers who are ready to sit still on up to six or seven years old.
I hope you enjoy meeting Mouse and Bear. We all need friends like this, and with the right encouragement, we can show our children how to be such friends to others.
If you liked this series you might also enjoy: The Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury by Arnold Lobel