Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

"I Have a Little Problem," said the Bear

Heinz Janisch
Illustrator:  Silke Leffler 
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
NorthSouth, 2009   ISBN: 978-0735822351

One day a bear tells an inventor that he has a problem. Without waiting to hear what the problem is, the inventor announces that he knows exactly what the bear needs. Convinced that the bear’s problem is his great weight, the inventor gives the bear a pair of wings so that he can “feel lighter.”

His problem still very much unsolved, the bear moves on. He meets a tailor who, just like the inventor, does not let the bear explain what his problem is. Instead, the tailor gives the bear a scarf, which the tailor is sure the bear needs.

Every person the bear meets is convinced that he or she has the solution to the bear’s problem, and each one of these people fails to let the bear explain what his problem is. Soon the bear is loaded down with a hat, a pair of glasses, a jar of honey, a box of pills, a good luck charm, and a pair of boots. Since none of these items will solve the bear’s problem, he sets them aside, feeling very despondent. Is there no one who will listen to what he has to say?

Many of have a tendency to talk too much and to listen too little. We think that we know all the answers, even when we don’t really know what the questions are. In this clever picture book, Heinz Janisch helps his readers to see that being a good listener is very important. Indeed, being a good listener can help you make new friends, and it can make you a better friend to the people you already know.

With wonderful collage illustrations and a story that conveys a meaningful message, this picture book will resonate with anyone who doesn’t have someone who will listen to them.