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Brother Hugo and the Bear
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Brother Hugo and the Bear

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  479 ratings  ·  127 reviews
A clever tale that will charm book lovers

Brother Hugo can't return his library book -- the letters of St. Augustine -- because, it turns out, the precious book has been devoured by a bear! Instructed by the abbot to borrow another monastery's copy and create a replacement, the hapless monk painstakingly crafts a new book, copying it letter by letter and line by line. But
Unknown Binding, 34 pages
Published April 4th 2014 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  479 ratings  ·  127 reviews

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Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Children may try to use the excuse that a dog ate their homework but how often do you hear of a bear eating a monk’s library book? That is indeed the creative storyline in the children’s picture book (targeting ages 5-9), “Brother Hugo and the Bear” by Katy Beebe and illustrated by S.D Schindler.

“Brother Hugo and the Bear” is based on a real ‘Hugo’ and an actual medieval note depicting an abbot whose monks have lost a book to a bear’s gullet. Beebe translates this into her own text while Schindl
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art, kids
I really enjoyed this book. The story is based on a true story so it presents a real problem, and interesting solution. The story is lighthearted and engaging. The notes at the end serve to bring the book alive. What I really enjoyed in addition to the story were the illustrations. I found this book while studying illuminated lettering. I found this book to be a good example of what illuminated lettering looks like in the 21st-century. Not too complex, but still detailed and attractive and, most ...more
Kristine Hansen
The best part about this book is that it's based on a true story!

At first the tale seems farfetched. A manuscript eaten by a bear and needing to be replaced. Then we find out all the stages in creating a book during this time period (so much work!). Of course returning the library book becomes the problem - made more difficult by a bear who has gotten a taste for words.

I thought the story fun and interesting initially. But reading the notes at the end brought the whole thing alive and left me w
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
i had the opportunity to read this book thanks to the goodreads giveaway, and i love it.
i recommend this children's book for anyone who likes this imaginative tales and illustration. in fact, just right after i read, i lent it to my friend who's working on some book too, and she also loved it!
it's a funny book with amazing traditional illustrations and a interesting vocabulary.
congratulations on this book!

would love to see more like this.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Love the illustrations but really am not sure who the audience is for this book.

(Hugo is fine. BUT ALL THOSE BOOKS.)

This is an excellent kids books which is hilarious to all ages, and probably will be way more distressing to history-majoring-adults than it will be to smalls.
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This beautifully illustrated book about monks in the Twelfth Century echoes the look of manuscripts they produced.

According to a Historical Note at the end of the book, this story was inspired by correspondence between Peter the Venerable of the Benedictine monastery of Cluny, and Prior Guigo of the Cistercian priory of La Grande Chartreuse. Peter wanted a loan to replace a book:

"… send to us, if it pleases you, the great volume of letters by the holy father Augustine, which contains his letters
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Brother Hugo’s library book is due, but he can’t return it because it was eaten by a bear! So Brother Hugo is instructed that he must create a new copy of the book. First, Brother Hugo has to go to the monastery of the Grand Chartreuse where they have a copy of the book. On the way, he can hear the bear snuffling behind him, but manages to reach the monastery and safety in time. On his return to his own monastery, he can hear the bear snoring in his sleep, so he hurries back. Then the real work ...more
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brother Hugo and the Bear is a charming hardcover book that tells the fictional tale of a monk named Hugo and the bear he encountered one day. Lent was just beginning, and brother Hugo had a book due at the monastery library. However, he could not return it, because a bear had eaten it. It sounds a lot like "The dog ate my homework" excuse. The abbot in charge of the monastery gave him the task/penance of going to another monastery to borrow a copy of the missing book and transcribing a replacem ...more
Barb Terpstra
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is not your typical children's book. According to the publisher, Eerdman, this book is appropriate for ages 5 to 9. At first blush, I didn't really see where it would be a book a 5 year old would love. However, since there is a bear to find in every illustration, I've changed my mind.

I do like that as you read this book to a child, they are going to learn a lot. Behind the story of the bear eating books, you learn about monks, about how books were made in historical times and about how frie
Jay Arcy
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is hilarious!!!

This is a must-read book. The story is engaging! Love the glossary at the end of the book, and love the colofrul illustration. It's a perfect book to read to your little one at night or any time of day. What's nicer is that it has a historical dicussion about monks and manuscripts. Really very informative. My son's eyes bulged when I explained to him how paper was made, and how people from the ancient times wrote, since it was mentioned in the book. It's also a perfect gift
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
3.4 stars

It’s tough to be a monk in the Middle Ages and have a bear eat the book by St. Augustine that you were supposed to return to the religious library. So the monk, as a penance, has to borrow a copy of the same book from a different monastery and copy the book by hand which, of course, is how books were duplicated then. The weary monk is Brother Hugo and his fellow monks are very kind to him and offer him as much assistance as they can.

At last he is finished, and he leaves to return the bo
Beth Nieman
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wherein in a bear who is hungry for tasty books causes Brother Hugo to have to recopy an entire book by hand. This book has the feel of a charming folktale by Tomie DePaola. The simple story builds tension as key phrases are repeated when the bear pursues ever more tasty pieces of parchment from the monastery.

Along the way, the illustrations and text show how books were once made--the painstaking efforts that went into the process shows readers why it is so upsetting when a bear eats a book. He
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite picture books of 2014.
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Beautifully illustrated. Fascinating back story. I'm not sure how it will play with kids, though.
Margaret Chind
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a great follow-up to reading Brother Theophane and Marguerite Makes a Book. Humorous and full of great medieval vocabulary. The illumination of rye first lattes was a perfect example of what such manuscripts would have had. I especially loved the descriptions of making a book beginning to end and inclusion of the Latin root words. a good library book to look out for.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
Such a great combination of amusing text and illustrations. I love that the style of the illustrations and the placement of the text is in the style of ancient texts, with enlarged first letters. A bit long for story time with preschoolers, but this would work for a read-a-loud to school age kids, the book itself is large enough and the idea of the bear who likes to eat books is cute.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good introduction to medieval monastery life. I enjoyed the illustrations, especially the large, manuscript capital letters and the monk trying to outrun the bear. More lower elementary level than preschool.
I enjoyed the artistry of this book as well as the view into how old books were made. The hungry bear was strange, but overall I kind of liked it. I liked it even more when I found that it was based on real events. "For it happens that the greater part of our volume was eaten by a bear."
Briarwood Hollow
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's ok. Not my favorite, but ok. (G, age 6)
Vera Godley
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just love when picture books introduce young children to a different historical world than that which they might normally. Going way back to medieval times is unusual for books to take a young child, but Brother Hugo and the Bear does just that. Drawing from a story that has made its way through the annals of time and was found through the research of the author, the story of Brother Hugo and his encounter with the bear that digested his book.

From this story by Katy Beebe and the delightfully
Sue Conolly
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love love love it when authors make choices with words that are both amusing and informative, and thus I was most pleased to find words such as "befell", "right good penance" and (my personal favourite) "verily" within the first few pages of the book. Done in rightly monkish style, I also love the illustrations that feel like what I imagine medieval parchments to look like.

Rightly pleased I was then to see the end notes, filled with delicious information that would have made a hearty snack for
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Author Katy Beebe has crafted a cute story from a sliver of what may or may not be a true anecdote from the 12th century. Did a bear really devour much of one monastery's copy of St. Augustine's letters to St. Jerome?

Beebe's fictional Brother Hugo gets the task of replacing it, and a good chunk of the tale illustrates how manuscripts were created by the monks in those monasteries in the Middle Ages.

Illustrates is the perfect word, too, because artist S.D. Schindler's superb use of the style of t
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Poor Brother Hugo has terrible trials: his library book was eaten by a bear, who has a taste for vellum and ink. Hugo is instructed to travel to another monastery to borrow their copy of the precious book, so that he can copy it and provide his own monastery with a new edition. Even as he works on his penance he can hear the bear snuffling around outside, waiting for him. And when the day comes to return the book he borrowed to copy, more disaster strikes. Glorious art twines and twirls around e ...more
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Catholics, people who appreciate illuminated manuscripts
A lovely, little story about a bear who develops a literal taste for the written word and based upon a detail in a letter from Peter the Venerable, the abbot of the Cluny Benedictines. The illustrations are in the style of illuminated manuscripts and the practice of creating illuminated manuscripts is embedded in the story, and, though the text may be a little sophisticated for younger readers, it is a fun read-aloud. This would be a good seasonal/holiday book for those who practice Christianity ...more
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
On the first day of Lent, in medieval France, Brother Hugo confesses to his Abbot that he cannot return his library book because a bear ate it. The penance imposed on him is to travel to another monastery and borrow its copy of the same book, and make another copy to replace the one the bear ate, and get it done within forty days. But on the way there and back Brother Hugo is bothered by the same bear who has developed a taste for literature inscribed in bundles of tasty sheepskin.

To her gently
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
This story takes place in the Middle Ages, and certainly is unlike typical children's books. It's hard to determine whether characters are relatable or universal since they are monks! The fact that this is a partially true story of how monks wrote manuscripts by hand might make this interesting to young children, and the visuals are very well done. There is a bear to find within the illustrations, which also could keep children engaged. It's obvious to see that if you were teaching about the Mid ...more
Jim Erekson
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Primary source documents often have these little human moments that hint at a wider story. Beebe took this found moment and magnifies it into a charming tale. She did not take the easy way out, and chose to exit with a good punch line. Schindler did a good job of using the narrative elements known from the flat iconic church style, without needing to go all the way there. He offered depth with a hint at the flatness, and went to town instead with the decorative elements in and surrounding the ca ...more
A surprisingly lively tale of a monk, a bear, and a book. The language is charmingly old-fashioned, parts of the pictures are inspired by illuminated manuscripts (with plenty of bears). While it would be a great addition to a lesson on medieval monasteries or book-making, it's also a funny story on its own merits.

From when the Abbot discovers that the bear has eaten the letters of St. Augustine:

"Pray tell, Brother Hugo," said the Abbot, "how did a bear find our letters of St. Augustine?"

Read for the Mock Caldecott 2015.
I enjoyed the illuminated capitals, and the story was a good vessel for showing the elaborate methods of making an illuminated medieval manuscript. The historical note, glossary, author's and particularly the illustrator's notes added good value and interest. (I would like them to have included a photo of the original illustrated note Beebe found of "Hugo Pictor." But maybe they couldn't get permission.)
I found the language a little stilted (the jokingly medieval
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I love books -- reading them, holding them, even smelling them! Growing up in the Midwest, my family would spend summers at our local public library. Later, I was lucky enough to study at the medieval University of Oxford, where there are so many books that you can catch their scent rising up from vents in the sidewalks.

I now teach medieval history at the University of Texas at Arlington, and I i