The Bear's Song

Book review by
Joanna H. Kraus, Common Sense Media
The Bear's Song Book Poster Image
Funny story of bear searching for cub boasts detailed art.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Young listeners and readers can take time to search Benjamin Chaud's illustrations to find fascinating details: Why are the animals in the forest all  running in one direction? What's happening in the city street? What are people doing before the opera, and how are they dressed?  What's happening backstage as performers and technicians prepare for performance? 

Positive Messages

"Adventure is best enjoyed together." Nothing is more important than family. A parent will go to any length to find and reunite with a missing cub (or child).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Papa Bear 's persistent and resourceful in his search for his cub. Little Bear's relentless in his pursuit of the bee and the prize of honey.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

This is a translation of a picture book, "Une chanson d'ours," by popular French author-illustrator Benjamin Chaud, published in France in 2011. There's adventure as Little Bear runs off, chasing a bee, and Papa Bear pursues him. The quest goes from their familair forest to the unfamiliar, bustling big city filled with tall buildings -- renditions of which which benefit from the large-format book size (9 1/4" x 14 1/8"). The surprise resolution is funny and sweet.

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What's the story?

It's winter and time for hibernation, but Little Bear runs away to follow the buzz of a bee and find honey. Naturally, Papa Bear goes in search of his cub from the forest to the big city to the grand opera house. Suddenly he finds himself hanging from a chandelier above the stage. When he sing's the bear's song, the terrified audience members bolt from their seats. Except for Little Bear, who applauds. Happily, he tells Papa Bear a wonderful secret. (It's a secret, so no spoilers here.)

Is it any good?

While the theme of THE BEAR'S SONG may be familiar (Papa Bear goes in search of his cub), Benjamin Chaud's picture book has a delightful charm. The translation (from French) captures a lighthearted tone as well as some pleasing alliteration, such as "the busy sound of buzzing beckons."

The illustrations --done in pencil on paper and then refined with color added on the computer -- are lavishly detailed, showing the winter forest, the crowded city street, and the gleaming opera house with the pre-performance audience grandly groomed. The adventurous chase as Papa Bear searches for Little Bear is told with zest and humor, and the resolution is satisfying. This is a story to read over and over again.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why animals are so often featured in children's books, movies, and TV programs. What's fun about animal characters?

  • If you went off on an adventure away from home, where would you go? 

  • What are some ways to find a person who's lost? If you get lost, what are some ways to find your way home or to help someone else find you?

Book details

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