Review Blog

Jul 25 2013

A bear and a tree by Stephen Michael King

cover image

Penguin, 2012. ISBN 9780670075829.
(Age: 4+) Warmly recommended. Picture book. Friendship. Change. When Ren is upset that her loved tree has lost all of its leaves, Bear stops collecting the leaves for his den for the winter, and sits with her until she is calmer. They then spend the day together, Bear answering Ren's questions about the snow as best as he can. They play together in the snow, looking at the patterns in the snow, the icicles and simply dancing. They meet Mouse who is waiting for the night so that he can catch the first winter stars. They spend the night watching the stars, and when morning comes, Bear realises that he must sleep. He attaches some of the leaves he has collected to the tree, adding some of the things they have made together and goes to his den to sleep.
A tale of friendship and change, this story is seemingly simple, but has many layers to reveal as it is read and reread. The idea of change permeates the book, from the leafless tree, to Bear needing to sleep, so leaving his friend, to the change in the patterning of the sky, to the increasingly cold landscape. The blue and white of the pages, the lack of leaves on all the trees, the change from rainy landscape to one covered in snow, all point to the fact that Bear must soon retire to bed.
For parents and teachers simply looking at weather patterns and seasonal changes then this is a wonderful introduction, and for those wanting to look at friendship and change, then this book will provide a masterful springboard.
Fran Knight

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