Written by Cynthia Liu, Illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Bear was no ordinary cub.
The plot in a nutshell: A bear has trouble riding a bike.
Bear is very smart, great at gymnastics and good at helping people, but he can’t seem to master riding a bike. His friends and family try to help him, but he always falls off. When a new park opens with a cool bike path (and no training wheels allowed), Bear wants to ride his bike more than ever and his mother suggests going to the library. He finds a book with four steps to learning how to ride a bike. He learns everything about his bike, he practices his balance and he believes in himself, but he still falls off the bike. The next day, he hears a shout from the park that a kid is being carried away by his kite in a big wind. Without thinking much, he jumps on a bike, rides over and saves the kid. Everyone cheers for him.
Author Cynthia Liu hits on a lot of wonderful ideas in this book, whose root message about not thinking too much is super important in this age of information overload. Not overthinking is one of the hardest things for me whenever I’ve trying something new or making a big decision. Of course, I love that Bear goes to the library when he wants to learn more about how to ride a bike. The ending is a little cliché but it works with the rest of the story and emphasizes that amazing things can happen when you’re not too bogged down in your own brain.
The artwork, from Kristyna Litten, is done in pencil and crayon, with digital enhancement as well. I like that she draws Bear as an optimistic and generally happy character and we see that he is surrounded by good supportive friends and family, which can be so important when you’re taking risks and learning something new. I thought this was a wonderful positive book that really encourages kids to approach new things from a good perspective.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it’s important to learn about things, sometimes overthinking them can be a stumbling block to success.