Written by Patsy Scarry, Illustrated by Richard Scarry
Western Publishing Company, 1961
It is time for Little Bear to go to bed.
The plot in a nutshell: A father and son play a hiding game at bedtime.
Mother finishes the bedtime story and gives Little Bear a goodnight kiss. Then he runs over to his father, who lifts Little Bear up onto his shoulders and carries him into his bedroom. He sits down on the edge of the bed and yawns, closing his eyes. Then he opens his eyes and looks down at the pillow and asks where Little Bear could be. He pats a lump under the cover, but that turns out to be stuffed toys waiting for Little Bear to come to bed. Father returns to the kitchen and tells Mother, with a wink, that Little Bear is hiding. Mother suggests he may be under the kitchen stove. Little Bear giggles and Father playfully looks around to find the source of the laughter. He looks in the garden, the woodbox and the china shelf, but he can’t seem to find him anywhere. Finally, he takes a piece of Little Bear’s favorite chocolate cake and glances in the mirror, where he sees Little Bear, still on his shoulders. Father shares his cake, then takes him to bed and as he’s tucking him in, Little Bear asks if he was really fooled and Father laughs and winks.
Author/illustrator Richard Scarry published over 300 books during his lifetime and many of them (this one included) were done in collaboration with his wife, Patsy, who was also an author. This story was on our family’s bookshelf and we loved it because of its warm and playful family dynamic. Several of the early Scarry books have been edited to update gender and ethnic stereotypes to make the books more accessible for modern audiences, but this one is just the same as I remember it. So Papa’s pipe smoking and the fact that he lets Little Bear have chocolate cake right before bedtime may be issues for you. But for me, this book brings back memories of bedtime routines at our house when our ‘little bears’ were all still small.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it’s the silly little things you do with your kids that you both look back on and remember fondly later in life.