Amar Pai's Reviews > The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bear

The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bear by Jörg Steiner
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's review
Sep 24, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: kids-books

I don't use the word "odd" lightly, but I have to say this is an odd book. It's sort of a Marxist parable... well maybe not Marxist but some sort of political philosophy involving oppressed workers divorced from the products of their labor. This bear falls asleep and when he wakes up a factory's been built over his cave, and when he comes out everybody thinks he's a lazybones worker. They make him wear a uniform and try out for different "jobs" (bear skin rug, circus bear, etc.) but he's not interested in working cos he just wants to be a bear. But he starts to forget that. Finally in the end he escapes and remembers his essential bear-ness.

The art in this book is great. It's all done in a Soviet-era realism style. (Again I'm not entirely sure if that's a thing but I think it is.) The story however is a bit too on the nose... it sounds odd to say but it lacks any sense of absurdity, the story is played completely straight and the moral about getting caught up in the industrial system seems a little too obvious. There's also a fair amount of text, way too much for a 3 year old at least. I don't think this book is a kid's book... but I don't know what else I'd call it.

I guess this book is a good counterpoint to all the worker bee / animals dressed in suits type books targeted at kids. Seriously, there really is a book (Busy Bees at Work and Play) where Mama Worker Bee goes to visit all these other bees working at their jobs-- Plumber Bee, Accountant Bee, etc-- and the point of there book is to teach your kid that everybody has to work! I've read this book to Izzy a bunch of times and am only now realizing what a piece of wage-slave capitalist propaganda it is! So The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bear serves as a fitting riposte.

Plus I love the title.
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11/06/2016 marked as: read

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message 1: by Ettore (new)

Ettore Pasquini The art reminds me of Lorenzo Mattotti's art....

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