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The Biggest Bear

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  2,709 ratings  ·  219 reviews
Johnny Orchard brings home a playful bear cub that soon becomes huge and a nuisance to the neighbors.
Hardcover, 88 pages
Published June 1st 1952 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakMake Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskeyThe Snowy Day by Ezra Jack KeatsThe Polar Express by Chris Van AllsburgThe Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
Caldecott Medal Winners
54th out of 79 books — 302 voters
Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. LewisThe Borrowers by Mary NortonHow the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. SeussThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Best Children's Books of the 1950s
35th out of 144 books — 16 voters


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Community Reviews

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David
The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward is the Caldecott Medal winning story from 1952 of Johnny Orchard, a boy living in a rural farm area who is embarrassed that his family has no bearskin tacked to their barn. He goes out to shot a bear, but instead finds a cub he brings home. The cub grows into a huge bear that is always hungry and gets into neighbors food supplies.

After trying repeatedly to leave the bear in the wild. Johnny is told by his father to take the bear out and kill it. Instead, the bear d
...more
Anna
The most depressing Caldecott winner I've come across so far, and an excellent illustration of how times change. Young Johnny sets out to shoot a bear, as it is embarrassing that his farm is the only one in town without a bearskin tacked up on the wall of the barn. He finds a baby bear and ends up making it a pet, but it turns out that bears don't make great pets (surprise?). He tries to turn it loose in the woods, but it keeps coming back home. So, sadly, he goes out to shoot it. But along the ...more
Hans
I remember this book from when I was a kid and found a copy that I passed on to my niece. Reading it with her was a little bit of a mind warp though. This is a perfect example of a beautiful book that has not aged well. We live in a time when very few people live on farms. The larger urban centers typically don't go for hunting...except in the locavore/Michael Pollan approach.

So, Ward gives us perfectly crafted illustrations that bring us back to a different world, but we can't wrap our brains
...more
Samantha
I wanted to like this story, especially once the bear cub comes home and is a family pet of sorts. I was so upset by this book's ending. The bear grows large and becomes a nuisance so the only the solution is to shoot him? When shooting him is just too hard to do you trick him into a trap and send him off to the zoo? No way! Not a good story here. Illustrations are in black and white and appear in full pages that mirror text. They are fairly realistic and well done, but this story was not for me ...more
Kathryn
So hard to rate. The illustrations are five stars. The story made me sad and uncomfortable. I would not read this to most children today--especially not animal-lovers or other sensitive readers.

Review below contains SPOILERS:

I'm really not sure what to make of The Biggest Bear. Like many of these early Caldecotts, it is a product of its time, and while today the idea of boys going around in the woods with guns hunting bears is probably uncomfortable, if not repugnant, to many of us I realize tha
...more
Kristy
Set in Canada in the early 20th century, this story is about a bear problem. Specifically, young Johnny Orchard's bear problem.

I won't give away the plot, but I will gush over the illustrations. Lynd Ward won the Caldecott Medal for The Biggest Bear in 1953. His illustrations are completely realistic yet unique. Each animal on every page shows a distinct but unostentatious emotion that makes me laugh out loud but still leaves the animals' faces looking lifelike. The same can be said for the hum
...more
N_hannahkang
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Isa
The Biggest Bear is about a boy named Johnny Orchard who wanted a bear pelt just like his neighbors. So Johnny went to find the biggest bear in the valley, but instead he comes home with bear cub he befriended in the woods. As Johnny’s bear grows up it starts to become a problem with his family and neighbors. Johnny tries three times to get rid of the bear but each time the bear follows him home. This book has a very clever ending and a lot of detailed fun illustrations.

The theme in this book i
...more
Tatiana
I suppose it would be a good story to read to children with NRA-loving parents.
Jake
In this story written by Lynd Ward, young Johnny brings home a tiny bear cub from the woods. He feeds him maple sugar and anything else he wants to eat. Soon, the bear began to grow and grow and ate everything in sight. Johnny's mother decided they needed to get rid of the bear. So, Johnny walked him south and left him in the forest. But, the bear came back. Then he walked him north and left him. But, the bear came back. He even took a boat and brought the bear to an island. But, the bear still ...more
Rhonda Lee
The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward will take you back to a setting of no such thing as technology. The story quickly gains readers attention by the cover itself. This black and white illustrated book will have young readers entertained by a little boy who discovers a baby bear deep in the woods and creates a close bond. The little boy raises the bear and eventually finds out the bear eats way too much as it begins to get bigger and bigger. As his family and neighbors complain about the bears height a ...more
Kylie Hodgson
I really enjoyed this book. The overall feel of the book catches the reader emotionally and draws them in. The book starts off as a background story about the characters and where they are living. By referencing the illustrations we can tell that the setting is probably based in the 1950's on a countryside. The main character's family makes maple and the neighboring families enjoy killing game and proudly display it in their homes. One day the main character goes out to prove to the neighbors th ...more
Tory Haberman
The Biggest Bear written and illustrated by Lynd Ward is quite a suspenseful, light-hearted read. It has a very warm-hearted ending, but there were times of doubt and worries that were foreshadowed throughout the book. Johnny, a young boy whose family owns an apple orchard became jealous of all the other people’s barns in the valley that had a bearskin nailed to their barn. Johnny's barn never did and he was determined to go into the woods and find the biggest bearskin in the whole valley. Howev ...more
Danie Plott
Everyone in the valley has a big bearskin nailed up to dry except for Johnny Orchard. Johnny Orchard is jealous and claims to shoot his own bear and have the biggest bearskin around, and he ventures into the woods. He does come out with a bear all right, a little baby bear that likes maple sugar… and everything else for that matter! Johnny raises the little bear until it becomes a BIG bear, eating everything in sight. This becomes a problem for the people in town and Johnny must figure out how t ...more
Jim
ugly book.
little johnny is jealous that all the other kids daddys have killed a bear. not johnny's, he daddy is a wimp, a milktoast, not a real man. one day johnny is in the forest and finds a bear cub, feeds it and takes it home. daddy (probably a vegan and belongs to peta) lets johnny keep and raise it. the baby bear grows up, steals food, raids the other farms and is generally uncivilized. so all the other daddys get together and tell johnny he needs to take the bear into the woods and blow i
...more
David Korsak
This book is about a boy who goes hunting for a bear skin to bring back for his family’s barn. What happens next is anything from what the boy was expecting. The only bear he could find was a cub and the cub was starving, so the boy gave him some food. He then decides to take the bear home and keep him as a pet, but his parents have concerns. In the end the boy gets to keep the bear and the bear eventually grows up to be one of the biggest bears around. In the end of the story the bear gets capt ...more
Sami Wilson
I did not mind the black and white illustrations but I think that a little color would have been fine throughout the book. I thought that the Illustrator did a fantastic job drawing a visual aid for the story line. I was torn when the young boy kept walking the bear away from the village and the next morning the bear was back. I was sad when the young boy went marching into the woods with his gun and the bear. The ending was a nice surprise to know that the bear was safe and the young boy is sti ...more
Holly Leendertsen
The Biggest Bear is about a boy named Johnny that finds an abandoned bear cub and takes him in. Unfortunately, the bear eats everything in sight and wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. The boy is forced to get rid of him, but when he tries, the bear always follows him home. Johnny’s father finally tells him that he has to shoot the bear. However, the bear and Johnny run straight into a bear trap. The bear trap was set by zoo keepers looking for animals, and they offer the bear a good home. Lyn Ward ...more
Barbara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan Cureton
Johnny Orchard was embarrassed that his barn didn't have a bear skin hanging on the side like everyone else's barn. Johnny set out to find a bear to put on their barn. What he found was a cub, and then he kept it for a pet. The bear started to grow and was into everything and all the food, so it was time to put it back into the woods. Every time, the bear would end up back at the barn, so the book said there was only one thing to do. As Johnny set off with his gun, the bear ended up getting trap ...more
Alyssa Frank
The Biggest Bear is about relationship between a boy and his pet bear. Johnny Orchard and his family lived on a farm nearest to the woods which had a field of apples trees behind the house. The orchard was called Orchard's Orchard. When Johnny would go into town he would see all of the other farms and their displays of bear skins that they had killed. Johnny's farm did not have a bear skin and he was embarrassed. He decided he would go into the woods and hunt himself a bear. When Johnny stumbled ...more
Chelsea Cameron
Johnny is a young boy whose family owns an apple orchard. Every farmer that lives next to Johnny has shot and skinned a big bear, besides Johnny. Johnny is on the biggest bear hunt but only find a little bear cub. When Johnny returns home, his parents aren’t too pleased that he has brought and friend (the bear cub) along with him. Johnny promises to care for the bear but it still can’t work. The bear cub ends up at the zoo where Johnny has the chance to visit him whenever he wants. I really love ...more
Jamie Singer
This book is about a young boy who wants to go out and shoot a huge bear, because everyone else in his town has ones to show except him. Instead of finding this huge grizzly, he finds a baby cub and this cub was starving so he feed the bear. The cub ends up coming home with the boy and that is all fine, until he grows up and is too big and is one of the biggest bears around but this causes trouble.the neighbor tells the parents the concerns, and so the parents tell the boy he needs to take the b ...more
Jessica
Illustrations here are FIVE stars for sure. They are the best thing about this book. As someone in the reviews said this book doesn't really age well (written in 1952). However, hunting is not as part of nationwide society as it once was. Also, there are aspects that would probably cause my "Hunter's Education" teaching father to cringe. One was the even approaching and engaging with a wild animal. We don't feed wild animals and we don't play with them. So, I reminded my girls about that... espe ...more
Emma Hendrickson
The Biggest Bear is a great picture book that equalizes both words and illustrations. This story is a wonderful book about a boy who interacts with a bear. The boy in the story can be very relatable to readers. This book does an excellent job of making the reader want to become a participant in the story. The pictures and words are balanced throughout the entire book, which makes it easy to read and understand. The author does a fantastic job of making the reader visualize each scene in the book ...more
Jonathan
This book by Lynd Ward follows the story of a boy who brings a baby cub back to his home farm and eventually the bear becomes enormous! This tale is a great testament of the love between a boy and his pet. This book has amazing illustrations and is a Caldecott winner for good reason. It has amazingly detailed sketches and wonderful images that anyone would marvel over.

Ward creates this fun-loving tale of a bear who becomes too big to live with his owner Johnny Orchard. Johnny is told to get rid
...more
Samantha Zimmerman
Lynd Ward creates a story about a young boy wanting to get the biggest bear because of his jealous of his neighbors bear skins. Johnny seeks adventures out to shoot his very own bear and ends up finding a bear cub and bringing him back home keeping him as a pet. Eventually the bear cub grows and grows and begins to consume all that’s around him. The illustrations help capture the idea of how important the cub is to the little boy, but also how much destruction he is causing. Without the words in ...more
Madeline Isaak
The Biggest Bear is a great picture book that equalizes both words and illustrations. This story is a wonderful book about a boy who interacts with a bear. The boy in the story can be very relatable to readers. This book does an excellent job of making the reader want to become a participant in the story. The pictures and words are balanced throughout the entire book, which makes it easy to read and understand. The author does a fantastic job of making the reader visualize each scene in the book ...more
Caty Carino
The biggest theme within in this story is the power of friendship. The boy goes from wanting to kill the bear cub to becoming its friend. The illustrations portray the book in a good way. This book could have been easily been scary; however the author created a story with the illustrations and text to connect with the readers. The author connected the scene to the story perfectly. Also, the voice of the story is different than has been seen in other picture books. The tone of the author is relat ...more
Amanda Nesseth
As a child or teenager, all of us were embarrassed by our parents at one time or another (all the time, if you're lucky!). The Biggest Bear is about a boy who was ashamed that his family had never caught a bear. So the boy went out in the woods in search for one, and brought home a baby bear that grew up there, and was always getting into trouble. The neighbors soon got fed up with it and talked to the boy and his father, who then decided it was time to put the bear down. When they went to go do ...more
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