Written and Illustrated by Ciara Gavin
Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
Bear and the ducks lived together under the same roof. They were one big happy family.
The plot in a nutshell: A bear doesn’t want to hibernate and miss time with his non-hibernating family.
Bear lives happily with his duck family, but when winter comes he finds himself facing a dilemma. He knows it’s almost time for his winter sleep, but he knows the ducks won’t be sleeping and will be having lots of fun without him. He tries to stay awake, but the ducks notice that he’s having trouble. They try to help, but it gets too hard for Bear to fight when every sound seems to be lulling him to sleep. Mama Duck tells him he needs to do what’s right for him and she promises he won’t miss anything. So Bear goes to bed and falls into a deep sleep. The ducks go on with their usual activities and incorporate sleeping Bear whenever they can. Baby Duck takes to sleeping on top of Bear. When Bear wakes up in the spring, Mama Duck shows him her photo album and he sees all the pictures they took with him included in the shot.
Author/illustrator Ciara Gavin first introduced us to Bear and his duck family in last year’s wonderful Room for Bear and it was great to revisit these characters again in a whole new story. Once again, we see so much love in this blended family and they set the example for honoring each other’s differences. Everyone should have a family that values each other as much as this one does. When Mama Duck promises him he won’t miss anything, it seems like she’s over-committing, but the photo album shows how serious they were about including Bear in their lives.
The watercolor illustrations are beautiful, contrasting bright and bold colors with bear’s soft brown fur and the duck family’s stark white feathers. The picture of Bear talking with Mama Duck, facing each other and holding hands, speaks volumes about their relationship and totally infuses you with warmth. The book’s endpapers are filled with photos of the family together, with Bear awake in the front of the book and asleep in the back of the book. Oh, I hope there are more Bear stories coming down the road, because I just adored this one.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the folks who love you want what’s best for you, even if it means they can’t be with you as much as they’d like to be.