Books Early Readers Genre Joy and Peace in Literature Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

Little Bears Finding Unexpected Treasures in 2020 Picturebooks

"The Bear And The Moon" by Matthew Burgess and Catia Chien | "Little Bear's Treasures" by Stella Dreis.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

These two bear-themed picturebooks celebrate the joy of finding unexpected treasures, the pain of losing them, and the wholeness the entire experience brings.

The Bear And The Moon [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Matthew Burgess Illustrated by Catia Chien
Published by Chronicle Books (2020)
ISBN: 1452171912 (ISBN13: 9781452171913) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

The story begins with a red dot floating down from the sky, a dot that grows bigger as it reaches this little bear, who was fascinated by its colour and movement.

And just like that, the little bear had this new fascinating red thing that he brought with him absolutely everywhere: it was the most precious unexpected find. Little Bear now had a companion while he was having dinner and staring out at the night skies.

However, this red thing’s existence is short-lived. I love how the narrative arc still managed to surprise me, even though I should have seen it coming. Little Bear’s grief was as deep as his joy – demonstrating how one can never really be shared with young children without the other; these emotions are two sides of the same coin.

I love how the story has a comforting turn from remorse to wholeness that felt credible and true. There is a rhythmic quality to Matthew Burgess’ writing that is resonant and will appeal to both young and older readers. This is complemented so beautifully by Catia Chien’s art. I have admired her soft palettes in A Boy And A Jaguar (written by Alan Rabinowitz – Amazon | Book Depository), but this one had an almost-kaleidoscopic feel to it that appealed to me a great deal. Definitely a book to add to your bear-themed picturebook collection.

Little Bear’s Treasures [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Stella Dreis
Published by Greystone Kids (2020)
ISBN: 1771646535 (ISBN13: 9781771646536) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Unlike the gruff and playful bear of the first book, this Little Bear by Bulgarian artist Stella Dreis (who now lives in Germany) is more the whimsical and artistic type.

What other creatures regard as junk, Little Bear perceives as treasures: “a shiny button, tickly feathers, a soft cloud, a handy clothespin, a cozy hiding place, a shy piece of fluff.” It reminded me of how I often define high creatives in my undergraduate class: the ability to see the familiar with strange eyes. Little Bear has the gift of transforming the mundane to something magical.

Sadly, not everyone feels the same way he does. Feeling misunderstood and alone, he chanced upon this bird who perceived the world with the same level of openness and joy and beauty. Together, they hunted for treasures, and each page of new finds made me smile. There is subtlety here and wondrous faith and awe at the little things around us.

The above image filled me like no other. There is simple joy here that was not bought in a store – but simply is: pre-existing, natural, eternal. This book is a treasure. I hope it finds its way to you soon.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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