Oh, how much do I love Little Bear?
Little Bear’s world is so cozy, so secure. It doesn’t bother me a bit that his mother takes care of the house while his father goes off fishing–what’s more anachronistic than that domestic arrangement is the freedom to be a child that Little Bear has. Mother Bear is busy in the house, doing her things, and Little Bear is jumping out of a tree to fly to the moon. (True, it’s a “very little tree, on a very little hill.” Most children are better at regulating their risks when we aren’t watching than we think.)
I just love Little Bear’s relationship with his Mother Bear. She’s unflapped by him. She tells him he is not a bird, but a little fat bear cub who will fall down with a plop, if he tries to fly to the moon. And he’s completely unfazed by that, and goes on ahead and goes to the moon.
Unlike in so many children’s books, the line between real and pretend is as clear and as unremarkable as it is for children. Little Bear knows very well he’s pretending. He loves it when his mother gets in on the fun– for a while. And he’s perfectly happy to land right in his cozy, snug reality. “Mother, stop fooling! You are my Mother Bear, and I know it.”
Plus, this era of illustration by Maurice Sendak hits such a sweet spot.
Ahh, Little Bear.