The New Bear at School

Book review by
Dawn Friedman, Common Sense Media
The New Bear at School Book Poster Image
Cuddly bear tale about fitting in at a new school.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Classroom learns not to judge by appearances.

Violence & Scariness

School bullies are in the form of (rather cute) swashbuckling rats.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sweet book has a good message and absolutely nothing offensive. Even the school bullies come in the form of rather cute swashbuckling rats.

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What's the story?

Boris is a very big, very furry, very scary-looking grizzly bear and so he has a tough time making friends. Things are made worse when he makes several blunders on his first day of school -- breaking a chair, tearing a book, and accidentally scaring his classmates. Will they be able to see past his appearance to the lovable bear who lies underneath? When the school bullies arrive on the playground, Boris gets the opportunity to redeem himself in the eyes of his classmates.

Is it any good?

While parents will have likely read versions of this story many times before, kids will get a kick out of Boris' trials and will be surprised and pleased by the final outcome. Even the bullies are swashbuckling rats who add excitement without ever crossing the line to real worry. The pictures could undermine the idea that anyone could possibly be scared of Boris -- he's just adorable -- but he is convincingly big and the other animal classmates are dwarfed in comparison.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what leads us to judge by appearances. Perhaps parents have a story of when they, too, judged a book by its cover only to learn that they nearly missed the opportunity to make a new friend.

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