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Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: Not This Bear!

written by: S.S. Caine • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/11/2012

“Not This Bear!,” by Bernice Myers, although first published in 1971, is a humorous gem that offers up perhaps the most important lesson a K-1 student of today can learn.

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    Often, the analysis that goes into a book review can lend itself to a dissection of a book’s story structure. This book review provides a recommendation of a fun teaching tool in addition to an outline for discussing with your K-1 students the structure of the story in question.


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    I. Synopsis – “Not This Bear!” by Bernice Myers

    On his way to his aunt’s house on foot, in a new fur coat and hat, a little boy, Herman, is mistaken by a bear as a relative. The bear takes him in to have dinner with his family and they all believe him to be a cousin. When he doesn’t eat with his hands like them, they laugh loudly, drowning out Herman’s attempt to alert them that he is, in fact, a little boy. They think his eating with a spoon is just a good trick. So, he shows them lots of tricks to try to prove he is a boy, but they just laugh and ask him to teach them. When Father Bear announces that it’s time to hibernate for winter, Herman draws the line, asserting that he likes winter and has no intention of sleeping through it. Suddenly skeptical, the bears remove his coat, realize he’s a boy and let him go. As Herman continues on his path to his aunt’s house, he is stopped by yet another bear that mistakes him for a relative. This time, he runs away from the bear rapidly without stopping until he reaches his aunt’s house, where he truly does belong.

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    II. Structural Breakdown

    • Protagonist Want - Herman wants to get to his aunt’s house.
    • Obstacle or Conflict - He is stopped and taken in by bears who think he is a relative because of his fur coat and hat.
    • Resolution - Herman asserts himself when the bears expect him to hibernate for the winter. The respect him and let him go on to his aunt’s house.

    After going over the story structure with students, discuss the morals of the story, which are truly timeless.

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    III. Timeless Morals, Relationship/Relevance to Modern Times

    • Never feel pressured to be someone you’re not. Don’t succumb to peer pressure.
    • Looking like someone or something doesn’t mean you are or should try to be like that person or thing in action or thought.
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    IV. Other Lessons Taught

    • Anthropomorphism: Myers personifies the bears by having them speak. (Check out an interactive personification lesson plan here.)
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    V. Any Challenges the Story May Present

    • No outstanding challenges come to mind. Some feel anthropomorphism has “had its day.” That said, it’s still quite popular with today’s books.
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    VI. Other Notable Attributes

    • Images are edgily though charmingly drawn with a stylized suggestion of carelessness the likes of that a child’s drawings might feature.

    Image ©

Vintage Tales, Timeless Values: Early Reader Book Reviews

These book reviews are of vintage (or somewhat older and obscure) tales that offer timeless moral lessons and may help educators teach early readers that “old stories” are not so boring. Nor are they so different from the “new” stories of their young lives.
  1. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: The Little Red Flower
  2. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo
  3. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: Belinda’s New Spring Hat
  4. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: All the Lassies
  5. Vintage Book Review for K-1 English Teachers: Not This Bear!