Horrible Bear!

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Horrible Bear! Book Poster Image
Girl blames bear in funny story about anger and forgiveness.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Modeling of reading throughout: The girl reads a book, and the bear has a stack of books on his table, titles showing. There are other words in the art: The bear has lettering on his T-shirt, there's a "Welcome" mat, a "Mail" label on a mail slot, and repeated speech balloons with "HORRIBLE BEAR!" and "RAWR!"

Positive Messages

It's natural to feel anger and assign blame when something breaks or goes wrong, but we all break things. Apologizing to someone makes them feel better and can defuse the anger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both the girl and the bear are pictured as readers with books. The girl models strategies for working out anger -- drawing, reading, talking to a friend. When the girl realizes her mistake, she apologizes promptly. The bear accepts her apology immediately and becomes helpful and sweet.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora, the same team that collaborated on bestselling Wolfie the Bunny, is a funny book about a small accident with a broken kite and the anger and finger-pointing that result. When a girl's kite drops into a bear's cave, the bear rolls over on it and it breaks. The girl blames the bear and stomps home shouting, "HORRIBLE BEAR!" But the bear is equally upset since the girl woke him up making a ruckus, and anyway it wasn't his fault! To blame is human, to forgive divine, and all ends well when the girl realizes how easily accidents happen.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKjbartolotta May 5, 2016

Highly entertaining 'message' book

A very fun and idiosyncratic story with a great lesson, Horrible Bear is a great book to talk with your kids about.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In HORRIBLE BEAR!, a girl's kite gets broken by accident when it falls into a bear's cave. Girl blames Bear -- "HORRIBLE BEAR!" -- and Bear is angry at the girl for blaming and disturbing him -- "RAWR!" But all the anger is defused when the girl breaks something herself and, after realizing how easy it is to have an accident, apologizes to Bear: "And all the horrible went right out of Bear." Together, they skip through the meadow, bounce up the mountain, patch the kite, and "Nothing was horrible at all … ." Bear then comes up with some "Sweet Bear ideas," as does the girl -- though the reader sees that -- uh, oh! -- a goat's now munching on the kite string.

Is it any good?

Readers will recognize themselves and learn a thing or two about strong emotions in this fun, colorful story about the runaway force of anger and the disarming power of forgiveness. Author Dyckman has a knack for combining humor with emotional truths, and illustrator OHora delivers a charming spitfire of a character with a mess of red curls as unruly as her emotions. The girl's angry at the bear, the bear's angry at the girl, and both of them stomp and shout. The story turns and illustration are lots of fun -- haven't we all felt anger at friends? -- and kids can chime in as the girl shouts "HORRIBLE BEAR!" and the bear growls "RAWR!"

There are jokes embedded in the art, with pictures of books about bears and a cameo from Dyckman/OHora's Wolfie the Bunny, and the book cleverly sidesteps a too-pat happy ending by showing another mishap-in-the-making: After the girl and bear mend the kite, we see a goat nibbling on it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about anger. How do you feel when a friend breaks something? When you break something? Is it easy to break things by accident?

  • When does the story actually start? Look at the dedication and title pages. What happens in the art?

  • Which references to other stories can you find in the art? How many bear books do you see? Can you spot the picture of Wolfie the Bunny?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and strong emotions

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate