Ask Mr. Bear (by Marjorie Flack, 1932)

picturebookpicksThis simple pleasure of a book is one of my all-time favorites. It’s the story of a boy named Danny who is trying to get a birthday present for his mother. He asks all the farm animals for help, but his mother already has plenty of eggs and wool blankets and the other gifts they offer. Finally Danny asks Mr. Bear, who gives him a wonderful idea.

The straightforward plot uses repetition perfectly to make the book seem immediately familiar: when I read it at school, even very young children joyfully speak along with large portions after just a few readings. But despite the repetitive structure, the story is somehow exciting, with the stakes getting higher and higher with each animal. And there are little plot twists along the way that children find funny and adults (okay, me) find charming.

The illustrations are simple and lively, with attention to little details like layout and typography (which I honestly believe make a difference).

Overall, it’s a story about kindness and helpfulness, which manages to come off as heartfelt instead of twee. Children 2–5 will all get something different from it, and adults won’t get bored. It makes me smile every time I read it.

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One thought on “Ask Mr. Bear (by Marjorie Flack, 1932)

  1. Elizabeth McD February 7, 2013 at 5:18 am Reply

    I think I performed in a dramatic production of this story for Mother’s Day c. 1986… I haven’t thought of it in a very, very long time!

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