Minarik, Else Homelund. Little Bear’s Visit. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1964.
I thought this would be a good book to share in this season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when many of us visit with friends and family. As the title suggests, it is a book about a small bear’s visit to his grandparents. This is a thing Little Bear liked to do. He liked Grandfather’s goblin toy in a jar and he really liked Grandmother’s cooking. He has such a good time. It is a charming story about his visit. He laughs, he skips and best of all he gets a story about Mother Bear from Grandmother. When Grandfather wakes up from his nap, Little Bear prevails upon him to tell story. They hold paws as Grandfather might be frightened by the “Goblin Story”. After a busy day and a terrific visit, Little Bear lies on the sofa to wait for Mother and Father Bear to take him home. He is not tired. He has had a fun day. As Little Bear and his parents are leaving, Grandfather ask, “Little Bear are you tired?” Little Bear wasn’t just tired, he was asleep. A visit with Grandmother and Grandfather was a very exciting and exhausting day. I think he will be ready to do it all again in the morning!
This would be a wonderful book for a beginning reader to carry on a visit. That youngster could read it with a friend, with a Grandmother, or with a Grandfather. What fun that would be. It might inspire someone to tell the young reader a story about his/her Mother or Father.
Else Homelund Minarik
I wanted to give you a little bit of information about the author Else Homelund Minarik, but she must have been a very private person so not much is available. She was born in Denmark in 1920 and came to the United States when she was four. She had a happy childhood. “Little Bear is me in Denmark,” she told the Star News. “I was cuddled and loved.”¹ She earned a degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education. After completing her education, she became a teacher.
As a teacher, she did not like the “Dick and Jane” reading books. Perhaps they were good for phonics, but their stories were boring and did little to inspire the love of literature in students. She wrote the Little Bear stories for her students and daughter. Her publisher connected her with Maurice Sendak and the Little Bear series began¹. Little Bear began the “I Can Read” series from Harper & Row.
It was suggested to her that she change her characters from bears to humans. I am so glad she did not! Little Bear and his family are enchanting. Here’s what she had to say about this matter.
“I thought to myself, all children of all colors would be reading the stories,” Ms. Minarik told The Star News of Wilmington, N.C., in 2006. “All children love animals. The bear is fine. I love them because Mother took me to the Bronx Zoo every day, and I fell in love with the cubs. My bears were a family.”²