• Posted on November 04, 2012
Bear has a story to tell

Bear Has a Story to Tell

When I bought Bear Has a Story to Tell a few weeks ago, I had planned to write a review in a post about Autumn picture books. Since then it has snowed more than 30cm and Bing Crosby has had a play or two on my iPod. Autumn is a short season in the north. Early September looks like summer. Late September, all the leaves are yellow. By mid-October, the leaves have migrated south and snow has erased all evidence that we had any autumn at all. It’s no wonder that Halloween and Christmas vie for space on the shelves of department stores.

I welcome the snow, but I long for a more patient autumn, where leaves are not in such a hurry to change clothes and fly away. The lumbering bear in Philip and Erin Stead’s new book would agree, I think. Wandering through the woods in search of an audience for his story, Bear finds no takers; just a lot of busy creatures readying themselves for winter. Untroubled by the lack of receptiveness, this would-be storyteller instead offers to help each animal with their various preparations. Bear gathers seeds for a tiny mouse, checks the direction of the wind for a duck who is about to migrate south, and ever so gently, tucks a frog into a blanket of leaves and pine needles. This is a very kindly and patient bear, not to be confused with a real bear. Real bears don’t tell stories.

Once everyone is settled for the winter and the first snowflakes begin to fall, Bear snuggles into his den. His story will have to wait until the spring. But will he even remember what it is he wanted to say?

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  • Posted on February 08, 2010

The Hibernators Dilemma

In my years as both a bookseller and as a reader, I have discovered a most interesting and delightful phenomenon. Books find us, not the other way around. It will call to you, like dark chocolate peanut M&M’s and HGTV.

I no longer work in a bookstore, and thus have fewer opportunities to flip through publisher catalogues and fondle freshly unpacked new releases in the shipping department, but I find the books I’m supposed to find. Or so I tell myself.

As for the books that are recommended by well-meaning friends and reviewers, well…I try to be nice. It’s that subjective thing. One person’s beautifully illustrated book is another person’s piece of sentimental shit. I am the first to admit I am a tough customer.

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