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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Old Bear and His Cub, written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea. Penguin, 2010. $21.00 ages 3 and up

"Old Bear and Little Cub snuffled
nose to nose. Little Cub curled up
against Old Bear and closed his eyes.
Fast asleep.
Old Bear loved his Little Cub with all
his heart. Little Cub loved Old Bear
with all his heart."

I know there was a time when my kids were not SURE that I was right....and who hasn't been there? I was thrilled when I found a t-shirt for my grown-up and brilliant daughter for Christmas that said: "Oh my gosh, my mother was right about everything!' I have not, as yet, seen a picture of her wearing it, but I have hopes that she will at some point. I begin some emails to Bret with the adage: "If it's not one thing, it's the mother!'...a constant reminder that I will always be that! And I have no doubt that there were and are many times when I was/am not right, I just liked to think that it so. We are all guilty of that, no matter the age.

As I read this lovely book again and then again, I was reminded of a number of stories from my life. But, it mostly conjured up family stories of little battles that were worth having a say, but not worth fighting about it. David and I were not ones to raise our voices much; but, when it happened, it was generally effective. Often, I used my eyes to make a point. I had learned that from my Dad. I am reminded of a young kindergarten student who was quite rambunctious and not prone to listening to admonition for it. Looking over my glasses at him one day and saying nothing, he stopped dead on the spot and said: "Hey, Mrs. B! Did you know your eyes talk?"  I hope so...I tried to use them to that effect many times.

As Old Bear does in this story of the love between parent and child, teacher and learner, old and young. The daily routines offer time for lessons to be taught, and those lessons begin in the morning. From eating a good breakfast, to playing in the snow, to daring new adventures, we watch the two as they go amiably through their day. Each time Old Bear has something to suggest, Little Cub is resistant. Old Bear perseveres and Little Cub takes the lesson to heart. After fun in the snow, they head for home. Old Bear seems to be catching something as he sneezes and shivers throughout the journey back.

Once home, Little Cub takes on the role of protector and advisor. Old Bear seems equally resistant, Little Cub determinedly persistent. A warm bed, honey with blackberry tea and long hours of stories read bring peace and contentment to Old Bear. When Little Cub gives in to exhaustion, he snuggles in for a well-deserved rest. Ahhhh!

What a wonderful bedtime story this will prove to be!

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