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Friday, December 13, 2013

Santa Claus and the Three Bears, written by Maria Modugno and illustrated by Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer. Harper, 2013. $23.99 ages 3 and up

"Papa Bear was bringing
in a tree from the forest,
Mama Bear was preparing
Christmas pudding,
and Baby Bear was busy
getting in the way.
Even though he was a baby,
he was still pretty big."

Before sharing this inventive fractured fairy tale, ensure that young children have heard the traditional version. It will make the reading so much more meaningful.

The story is pretty much untouched...there are three bears, they do leave the house for a walk while food is cooling, and they do return to find an intruder. The similarities end there. These three bears are of the polar kind, totally in keeping with the time of year. Mama is making Christmas pudding. No surprise there. While it is cooling, they venture over to the nearby village to take in all the twinkling Christmas lights. Papa carries a lantern, Mama has a walking stick, and Baby Bear tugs on a sleigh.

While they are out, Santa is delivering the evening's gifts to the northern hemisphere. He is on the lookout for the bears' house as he has presents for them all. It's been a long night. Santa needs a breather. So, he has a look around guessed it, he finds the cooling puddings and is delighted (he's had enough milk and cookies for one night). He tastes the puddings, sits to rest on the assembled chairs, and finally succumbs to fatigue when he discovers the upstairs bedrooms.

He doesn't mean to sleep so long! The bears arrive home to discover that someone has been, and still is, in their house. Imagine their surprise when they see who it is:

"They saw lots of white hair, a red jacket covered with soot, and, sticking out from the bottom of the blanket, two black boots."

We know exactly who it is! Not resorting to Goldilocks' method of departure, Santa does what he is there to do and off the goes to finish his night's work. Young children will love to see the size of Baby Bear's gift...and are sure to hope for some of the same!

Jane and Brooke Dyer use watercolor and gouache to create 'just right' art for this delightful edition. There is a lot to see, and little ones are sure to notice the many tiny details that grace this book's pages. I think you'll like it. I know I certainly do!

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