Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring is Sprung and the Bears are Back

The local online paper 'TAPinto' just posted its first bear sighting story of the season, which reminded me of the recurring posts on this blog about area bears and related children's books. Enjoy our librarian blogger's musings about bears.
A few years ago, before I had a smart phone and city alerts were coming to my landline...

"The blinking telephone message light greeted me last night when I got home from work. The police reverse phone emergency system informed me that a "free-ranging" bear had been spotted near Summit Middle School and was last reported heading in a "westerly" direction.  Last time I got that message was the day I had left the outside door propped wide for my dog and forgot to close it when I left for work;  what if a  bear had headed into my house and found a "just right" sized bed or chair or perhaps raided the cupboard looking for porridge? I wonder what they mean by a "free-ranging" bear. Would that be something different from a bear with a plan or a GPS? While I was pondering that mystery, I started to think about how bears are portrayed in children's books, so cute and cuddly and, well, human. Some well-known literary bears spring to mind:

The many versions of the story of Goldilocks and her nemeses, the Three Bears, who I think of as Mr. and Mrs. Three and Little Three, Jr.
The Berenstain Bears, whose eponymous (always wanted to use that word in a sentence) series features moral lessons for young children about proper behavior in school, at the doctor, with the babysitter, on a boat, at night etc. There's no situation these books don't address. Every day has teachable moments for these poor bears. My son was addicted to this series; me not so much. I prefer:
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson as a read-a-loud for preschoolers, Michael Bond's Paddington series is fun to read to older children. My (now grown) kids still refer to Paddington "having a tussle with a sticky bun" in the station cafe. It is one of those family catch-phrases. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is a classic; I love McCloskey's illustrations and the old-fashioned 3-tones pictures. And Daniel Pinkwater's stories about Larry the Polar Bear who floats on an ice flow and ends up in Bayonne, NJ is a must read.
If approached by a real bear, remain calm and report it to the NJ bear hotline    
For more information about real bears, read the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's 
Bear Facts page.'

[Originally posted April 2011]"

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