The Bears Learn a Beary Important Lesson
Series: Berenstain Bears® Living Lights
Publication Date: December 23, 2014
Ages: 4 – 8
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“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
In this newest 8×8 softcover title in the Berenstain Bears Living Lights collection, the Bruins join the Bear family for a cookout and bring their cousin Tommy along. It isn’t long before the cubs start up a game of baseball and Sister soon notices that Tommy doesn’t play like the rest of the group. When Sister asks about Tommy, Mama takes the opportunity to talk to Sister about how God makes each of us unique in our own way. And that we all have special gifts and talents to share with the folks around us.
The Bear family is having a cookout! Sister’s best friend Lizzy Bruin and her family are on their way over to join the fun. But when the Bruins arrive, who is the extra cub with them? Turns out he’s Tommy, Lizzie’s cousin. Though the same age as Brother and Barry Bruin, Tommy is developmentally closer to Brother and Sister’s little sister Honey Bear, and acts much younger. As the cubs play baseball together, sister notices Tommy’s differences. Barry casually tells her that Tommy “has his own way of doing things.” As they set up for dinner, Sister, still thinking, asks Mama Bear why Tommy is different. Mama explains: “God made all of us special. He made Tommy special in his own way.” Mrs. Bruin takes the lesson a step further saying that maybe “God made Tommy different so he could teach us something.” Tommy has a joyful air that is contagious!
We aren’t told the nature of Tommy’s special needs, and I think it’s a good idea that Tommy is never given a specific label or diagnosis. This helps children be more accepting as a rule to others who are different. At the same time, many more children will be able to see themselves, a sibling, or a special friend in Tommy.
I was unaware that Mike Berenstain had chosen to carry on his parents’ legacy by continuing to write and illustrate stories using the loveable Bear family to teach children manners, morals, and life lessons. God Made You Special is part of his Living Lights series. Reading this sweet tale that gently teaches inclusion had me fondly remembering my own childhood and the special place these Bears played in it. Brother and Sister were such friends to me that I continued to read the books well after my reading skills had surpassed them.
Mike’s illustrations are exactly what one has come to expect from a Berenstain Bears ® book. There’s no better vehicle for imparting lessons to children than books, and few books for young readers have been more beloved than those written by the Berenstains. It’s easy to see why the series is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Happily, in Mike Berenstain’s capable hands the Bear Family will continue to find their way into the hearts of children everywhere for years to come!
— Dawn Teresa
5 of 5 Hearts. The Bears Learn a Beary Important Lesson.
God Made You Special demonstrates to children that God made us all unique with our own special gifts. This gentle, compassionate look at children with special needs teaches loving acceptance and inclusion.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”