Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review - The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear

The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear (The Berenstain Bears)
by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Date: 1984
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

How can Santa's sleigh land when there's no snow on the ground? How can he possibly fit down all those skinny-minny little chimneys? And how come every mall has a different Santa? These are just some of the highly delicate issues handled in this classic First Time Book that's back in print with a cheery new cover for a new generation of Bear fans.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book brought back memories! I wasn't sure if I'd read it or not; my sister was the one who was really into these books when we were kids. But as I read it, I kept getting twinges of memory; I think I did read this at some point, or it was read to us. I especially remembered the presents that the cubs asked for (and gave).

It's actually one of the stronger holiday picture books I've read so far this year, with a nice message and cute illustrations. I would recommend it, but with a caveat: it is a bit dated. Mama Bear laments the early start of the Christmas season... two days after Thanksgiving! (She should see the frenzy now! Some stores start winding up for Christmas before Halloween.) Brother Bear gives his father a pocket calculator for Christmas. (Would kids today even know what that is?) And there's a bit of an elitist attitude when it comes to the poor, when Papa Bear explains that "the needy" are creatures like squirrels who didn't put enough aside for the winter. To me, that read like blaming the poor for being poor. (Maybe the squirrels couldn't find enough nuts to put away during the year! That's hardly their fault.)

Aside from that, though, this is a cute story that emphasizes giving over receiving, and gently steers kids away from the greed that's so easy to get caught up in at this time of year. I can see why this book has endured and is still available for new generations to discover and enjoy.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.5 out of 5

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