Written by Eric Pinder, Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015
One cold day, Thomas gathered some pillows and blankets and made a warm cozy cave.
Thomas steps away from his cave to get a flashlight and when he comes back, he finds a bear has moved into his new cave. He puts down a trail of blueberries leading away from his cave and the bear follows the trail, giving Thomas the chance to grab some books and get back to his cave. But when he gets there, the bear’s already beaten him to it. Thomas tries tempting the bear with a back scratcher, filling the sink with bath toys and putting out a bowl of honey oat cereal, and finally he manages to get into the cave. When the bear sees there’s no room for him, he starts to cry and Thomas feels bad. He and the bear, who we now see is actually his little brother in bear pajamas, build a new cave that’s big enough for both of them.
When I read this book for the first time, I was completely surprised by the revelation of the bear being Thomas’ little brother. Author Eric Pinder makes Thomas a really admirable character throughout this story. He never loses his temper at the bear’s presence and all of his efforts to lure the bear away are positive things instead of negative ones. And when he sees his brother upset, he immediately changes up the cave to make it big enough for both of them.
On subsequent reads, I noticed that there were some clues to the bear’s identity sprinkled throughout Stephanie Graegin’s artwork. In addition to the fact that we never see the bear’s face, you’ll notice pictures on the walls of Thomas and his brother and other little clues to let us know there are two kids in this family instead of just one. The last page in the book features an illustrated guide to building your own cave from pillows and blankets. I’m going to go build one now. If you need me, you can find me there.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it’s great to have cool things of your own, but it’s even better to have good friends you can share with.