Bear’s First Christmas by Robert Kinerk

Bear’s First Christmas by Robert Kinerk
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Children’s, Holiday, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

In the dark of winter, deep in the woods, a lone bear is awakened from his winter sleep by a soft and mysterious sound. Under the stars the bear finds his way step by step through the snowy forest, making friends along his route. Then the bear discovers a place in the woods that glows magically with something he and his friends could never have imagined — their first Christmas.

Robert Kinerk’s inspired story and Jim LaMarche’s glimmering illustrations combine in a picture book that captures the joy and spirit of Christmas. Come along with bear and his friends and see the magical light of Bear’s First Christmas.

Christmas isn’t only for people. Sometimes animals can enjoy it, too.

This book was beautifully written. It included poetry that told the audience what happened to the bear after he woke up early from his winter hibernation. I was impressed by how nicely the word flowed together and how much care was put into making the perfect rhymes. While this is technically meant for young children, I’d recommend it just as highly to adults because of how much care the author put into choosing exactly the right words to paint vivid pictures of the bear’s adventures.

Bear and his friends spent most of the plot acting pretty closely to how you’d expect wild animals to actually behave. I really liked that about them. It came as a surprise to me, then, to see them break this pattern at the end of the plot. While I can’t say much more about that part of the storyline without giving away spoilers, I was surprised by this change. This was a minor criticism of a story I otherwise enjoyed a lot. Had a little more been done to explain why they suddenly changed so much, I would have given it a higher rating.

I loved the fact that bear and the other creatures in the woods weren’t at all concerned with receiving a big pile of presents. They weren’t human, after all, and had no use for such things. The glow of Christmas had nothing at all to do with what they owned or could find. The meaning of the holiday was explained in ways that a bear and his buddies could understand. I appreciated the creativity that went into translating a human holiday into something animals would enjoy as well.

Bear’s First Christmas was a truly heartwarming tale that made me smile. It should be read by anyone who is in the market for a Christmas story that has nothing at all to do with opening presents.

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