Thursday, November 17, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book three hundred and twenty-one

When my daughter was young, she was convinced that "nasty things" lived in her closet, and we had to make sure that the doors of her closet were shut tight before she would let us turn off her light at bedtime. Many children are persecuted by the monsters, bears, wolves, dragons and other creatures that inhabit the dark places in their homes, and it is hard to reassure them that these creatures are not out to get them.

In today's picture book Joanna Harrison tells the story of a little girl who has a problem with a bear, and we see how her fear changes over time into something altogether different. 

Joanna Harrison
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Lerner, 2006, 0-87614-965-4
Most of the time, Katie is a happy girl who likes having tea parties, hanging upside down on the bars, playing dress up, and playing with her friends at school. Most of the time Katie does not think about the bear who lives under the stairs, but at night, when she is in bed, she finds it hard not think about him. Katie knows that the bear is there and that he is “just waiting to jump out and grab her.” Katie tells her parents about the bear, and her mother suggests that Katie should write to the bear and tell him to “go away.”
   Katie follows her mother’s advice, and to her amazement, the bear writes her a letter telling her that he has decided to go away, as per her request. Apparently, the bear needs a vacation. A few days later, Katie finds a package in front of the closet door. Inside the package is a snow globe. The bear has brought Katie a gift.
   Naturally, Katie sends the bear a thank you letter, but when she does not hear anything from the bear for several days she starts to worry. Is the bear ill? Is something terribly wrong with him?
   Many children are afraid of the bears, dragons, and monsters that inhabit closets, basements, and other dark and creepy places. When they are in bed, they are afraid to put their feet down on the floor in case something grabs them by the ankles.
   In this picture book, Joanna Harrison tackles this very delicate issue with sensitivity and gentle humor. Children will come to see that perhaps the creature they fear is not all that bad. Perhaps it is even lonely.
   Being able to see both sides of a story is a useful tool to have, and this book helps children to see that when they are afraid or unsure, they should try to look at their problem from a different angle. They may be surprised by what they see when they do.

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