Maybe it's because the time change is catching up to me, maybe it's because today was especially cold and dreary - not exactly sure, but today I'm thinking about coziness. Picture books for me are the ultimate in cozy-making. Few things are better on a cold winter night then snuggling up by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa, a fuzzy blanket, a warm puppy (or cat, if that's your thing), and a pile of good books. Sprout's very anxious for us to get a big snow, and I think that's largely because he's hoping for some seriously cozy reading time.
Our pick for today is Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea. I have a total soft spot for this book because it reminds me so much of the relationship between my husband, who is firm but loving, and Sprout, who is often pushing against what he's told. (I know, unbelievable in a three-year-old, right?!) Old Bear loves his Little Cub, which is why he has to insist that Little Cub do what he's told. When Little Cub doesn't want to eat his breakfast, Old Bear just stares hard, and soon Little Cub is eating. And so it goes through the day, as Little Cub tests all the limits. Then all of a sudden it seems like Old Bear is getting sick -- and even though Little Cub knows what he needs, Old Bear won't listen. But eventually even Old Bear has to give in to a cold, and it's Little Cub's turn to insist, and to take care of his Old Bear, which he does in exactly the right way.
This is a simple and moving tale of love between an adult and child, and it strikes just the right note of cheeky humor. Dunrea's illustrations are as always pitch-perfect, suiting the tone of this simple story with their appealing homeyness. I appreciate that the relationship between Old Bear and Little Cub isn't precisely defined by Dunrea. They could be father and son, uncle and nephew, cousins, friends, you name it. Dunrea doesn't say and it doesn't really matter. What's important is that the two love one another and each cares about the other person's welfare -- as evidenced by the fact that when poor Old Bear succumbs to a cold, his sweet Little Cub is there to make blackberry tea and read aloud all through the night.
If you're looking for a great bedtime story on a blustery winter's night, Old Bear and His Cub is just the thing. We love it with all our hearts.
Old Bear and His Cub by Olivier Dunrea, published by Philomel Books