Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Bear who wanted to be a bear

The Bear who wanted to be a bear

Jorg Steiner
Illustrator:  Jorg Mueller 
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Heryin Books, 2007   ISBN: 978-0976205609

It was fall and a bear was getting the urge to begin his winter sleep. So he made his way to his den, he made himself comfortable deep inside away from the cold air, and he went to sleep. Soon enough snow began to fall but the bear did not notice because he was fast asleep. He did not notice when big machines arrived and cut down the trees in the forest and began to build a factory.

It was only when he woke up in the spring and came out of his den that he found out that his part of the forest was gone. A factory guard accosted him and told him to stop being a “slacker” and to go back to work. The guard refused to believe that the bear was a bear. In fact no one believed that the bear was a bear. They all insisted that he was a “no good slacker.” Finally the President of the factory decided that the he would accept that the bear was indeed a bear if the bear could prove it.

Unfortunately this was not easy to do. The zoo bears insisted that the bear was not a bear because he did not live behind bars. The circus bears said that he wasn’t a bear because he couldn’t dance. The poor bear finally gave up and went to work in the factory but that didn’t feel right at all. What was wrong? What was he? Was he bear or a human?

In this beautifully illustrated and thought provoking picture book Jorg Steiner explores a variety of issues. He looks at environmentalism, the beauty of nature versus the starkness of a man made world, and the importance of knowing self. Poor bear’s entire world is changed on him while he is asleep and he is thrown for a loop. It is only when he is allowed to flee the nightmare of the man made world that he is able to once again find himself and become a true bear again.