I ran across Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead on Amazon while I was searching for new picture books to use for Story Time at the library where I work. This book is a treasure! The illustrations by Erin Stead grabbed me first – a fuzzy brown bear sits on a log, talking to a duck, while fall leaves spiral down on the cover.
The sweet, evocative text explains that Bear tries to tell a story to his friends. Each of the other animals is busy preparing for winter and doesn’t have time to listen. Bear graciously helps each of his friends with their preparations and then moves on. The soft pastel illustrations depict Bear’s facial expressions and body language with exquisite sensitivity. Finally, hibernation claims Bear and he falls asleep, his story still untold. When he wakens in the spring, his friends are ready to listen but Bear has forgotten the story. Now his friends must help him to recapture the tale he planned to pass on.
This book has so many applications not only for Story Time and one-on-one sharing but it would provide an awesome springboard for a children’s sermon. The themes of friendship and selflessness are obvious. The more subtle refrain of forgotten stories, echoes growing old and depending on friends and family to recall past events. This picture book deserves a space in every public and school library and most homes, too. It’s a gem!