Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Berenstain Bears and the Gift of Courage

As a parent, the Berenstain Bear books do little for me - but my daughter loves them. Jan and Mike Berenstain know their audience well, and in The Gift of Courage. they focus on trusting God.

Too-Tall Grizzly is the school bully and likes to make fun of Sister Bear's love of animals. Sister doesn't know what to do or say when the bully teases her - which only makes her feel embarrassed and miserable. When Papa Bear reads her and Brother Bear the story of David and Goliath, Sister says she could never be as brave as David. Papa says, "I don't know about that...I think both of you can be quite brave when you need to be. And remember, God is watching over you just like David. That will give you courage."

The next day, Sister and Brother discover Too-Tall and his friends throwing rocks at a hornet's nest. Sister grabs his arm to keep him from throwing another rock. The bully's friends charge toward Sister, but Brother stands in their way. Because he doesn't seem afraid, the boys back off. In the meantime, Too-Tall swings Sister around in the air. When she finally breaks free, the rock sails from the bully's hand, breaking open the hornet's nest. The hornets chase after the bully and his friends, leaving Sister and Brother feeling brave - and cared for by God.

The last page of the book offers three discussion questions and two suggested activities.

What I Like: All the familiar Berenstain Bear characters are present - and they seem to rely on God more than they do in many other Berenstain books, including the newer ones published by Zonderkidz. The moral of not being afraid because God is looking out for us is also a welcomed one.

What I Dislike:
I have mixed feelings about the way Sister handles this bully. Essentially, she fights him. However, this gives me an opporunity to have my daughter come up with creative ways she would have handled the situation in a better way.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: 4 - 8

Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2010; ISBN: 978-0310712565; paperback, $3.99

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Special Info: Check out our reviews of Berenstain Bear books.

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