Old Bear

Common Sense Media says

Gentle tale of one bear's hopeful, playful dreams.





What parents need to know

Educational value

The bear dreams of all four seaons, attributes of which can be pointed out and discussed with toddlers.

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that is a beautiful book about a bear, the seasons, and dreams he has about things he loves.

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What's the story?

As a lumbering, cuddly brown bear hunkers down for his long winter hibernation, he dreams he is a cub again, frolicking through the four seasons and all the pleasures they bring. Finally, he awakes and can hardly believe his eyes when he walks out into a blossoming spring world.

Is it any good?


Any book by Kevin Henkes is worth having, and this one is no exception. With the usual broad outlines and familiar watercolors, Henkes has filled OLD BEAR with striking illustrations that give the simple tale a tone as beautiful and pleasant as the world Old Bear loves. His dream world is filled with giant pink crocuses and butterfly leaves of spring, blueberries that fall from the sky during a summer rain. Splashes of orange, yellow, and red fill the autumn world with salmon, birds, and leaves, and the winter world blazes with icy stars that fill the sky like fireworks.

It's easy to understand why Henkes has been called a genius because of the masterful way he merges simple, poignant stories with expressive, colorful paintings. His books have been awarded the Caldecott medal as well as New York Times Book Review honors. Though Old Bear may not be the best of his best, it's definitely a book worth sharing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the seasons. What does each one look like? Or feel like? What about the bear? What does he do in the fall? The winter? The spring or summer? What does he dream about when he's hibernating? Why? Which season do you like best? Which season do you dream about when you sleep?

Book details

Author:Kevin Henkes
Illustrator:Kevin Henkes
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Greenwillow Books
Publication date:August 19, 2008
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7
Read aloud:3
Read alone:6

This review of Old Bear was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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