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The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  366 ratings  ·  79 reviews
A dejected soldier makes a pact with the devil in this haunting, ultimately hopeful fairy tale, masterfully retold and vividly illustrated.

Man or bear? When a person gives up hope, is he still human? Such is the story of a soldier who has lost everything to war: his childhood home, his family and friends, his youth, and his innocence. Enter that sly opportunist, the devil,
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Candlewick Press (first published October 30th 2006)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  366 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hilary by: Canadian Reader
This is a really enjoyable fairy tale, surprisingly not as well known as some of the other Brothers Grimm stories. A soldier returns from war having lost all his family, he has nothing and dreams of a meal and a bed for the night. The devil appears and makes him a deal, he has to wear a bear skin, not wash, pray to God or take his own life. His pockets will be filled with gold and if he keeps to these rules for seven years he will be rich for the rest of his life, but if he breaks the rules his ...more
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This has a fable-like quality that makes it seem like a very old tale handed down from the generations. Which I suppose it is... but there are some tales that seem like they're written recently and there are some that just feel ancient and worldly.

The Bearskinner makes a deal with the devil and suffers through some extremely trying circumstances. It's a quick fun read!

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Oct 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The devil comes to a poor soldier with an offer he can't refuse. If the man wears the skin of a bear for seven years without washing, bathing, or praying to God, then he will be rich beyond his wildest dreams. Better still, during that time he will have all the money he desires. The man accepts the deal, but soon finds it hard to handle. His body disgusts him and society abhors him (though not, of course, his money). Yet when the man starts giving his money away to the poor, he finds that their ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gracefully told, masterfully illustrated, a classic tale with a great message for all ages. Before you read too far in, think about it? Could you make this deal with the devil?
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
”They say that when a man gives up hope, the devil walks at his side. So begins this story: A soldier marched through a dark wood, and he did not march alone...”

I’ve always had a soft spot for lesser known fairy tales. We all know the tales of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and what not. But what about the hundreds of other tales that are out there? I often find that these tales are just a little bit darker, just a little bit more twisted than the bright, cheery fairy tale lore that
Rebecca Tenbrook
Feb 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I had never heard of this book before but the title intrigued me and that is why I read it. When I found the book the cover looked scary and as I read the book my prediction was correct! It definitely was a very dark book. The full title of this book is called The Bearskinner A Tale of the Brothers Grimm. In chapter 4 of our text I remember reading that originally the brothers Grimm books were not intended for children but through the ages those tales changed to be more appropriate for them. Now ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Man or Bear. When a person gives up hope, is he still human?

A retelling of the Grimms' "Bearskin." Not being a religious person I read "the devil" as greed and despair. I liked that Schlitz switched it up from being the youngest sister to the middle sister. In my mind, a middle sister would be more likely to accept her father's wishes than the baby sister. And I wasn't at all surprised that Schlitz chose to leave out the two sisters' suicides in response to their sister's happily-ever-after.
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Laura Amy Schlitz last year (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) and immediately read this and A Drowned Maiden's Hair. Schlitz has a great gift for probing the soul behind a story, and I recommend all of her books wholeheartedly. ...more
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is quite dark, and very beautiful. Lucky are the children who will read and hear it.
Aug 15, 2011 added it
Shelves: picture-books
Love this rendition and love the dark/somber illustration. One of my favorites.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of my absolute favorite children's books. The illustrations are so dark and creepy and story is so good!

Also, I was a weird child.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
A darker tale for certain. We weren’t in love with the illustrations.
Christina Cabezas
Oct 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Title: The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm
Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Illustrator: Max Grafe
Genre: European Folktale
Theme(s): Patience, Love, Acceptance, Giving, Good v. Evil
Opening line/sentence:
They say that when a man gives up hope,
the devil walks at his side.
Brief Book Summary:
A soldier with nothing makes a deal with a devil that requires him to wear bearskin for seven years, and, in return the devil will give him riches. The soldier lives these years at first using his riches for o
May 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
I had a conversation with some parents just last week about how the original Brothers Grimm stories were not like the Disney versions; they were much more graphic. Details about one of Cinderella's sisters cutting off her toes, and the other, her heel, to make the glass slipper fit, and the blood dripping from the slipper as each rode along with the prince grossed them out, to say the least.

Here's another example of a BG story that might be classified as "not for the faint of heart". Graphic de
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is so psychologically, so visually and symbolically rich that it's stunning. What really set this Brothers Grimm tale apart for me was the vague and slightly disturbing artwork. Almost all painted in shades of brown and black, the monochromatism illustrates the message perfectly: Things don't always go well. Sometimes we bargain with the devil and realize later we've made stupid mistakes. Sometimes we feel like all hope is lost. The beautiful theme running through this story is that no ...more
Jordyn Agost
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm is an amazing legend created by Brothers Grimm about a man trying to survive. In order to do so, he believes he must make a bargain with the Devil. This involves wearing a bear skin without ever bathing while having continuous money and fortune. Lessons about what is truly important in life will arise as the man observes other families and their lives. Other themes will be exemplified throughout the book with religious and romantic aspects. The relig ...more
Jacqui Pollard
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A soldier who has lost everything to war is approached by the devil who makes him an offer he can't refuse. The soldier must wear the skin of a bear for seven years, but he will never want for anything, as his pockets are filled with gold. As the soldier begins his seven years, he is initially relieved at his newfound wealth, but that soon gives way to hopelessness and despair. The story illustrates the struggle between our "two selves" and demonstrates the strength it takes to claim victory. I ...more
May 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Bearskinner is a nice retelling of the various stories that involve men making deals with the devil, agreeing not to bathe for 7 years in exchange for untold wealth and putting their souls on the line for the deal. The illustrations are lovely and the story is rather dark and full of despair -which is probably appropriate given the subject. I thought the addition of the term "you may not pray to God" was interesting, as well as the Bearskinner's method for working around it.

The story - like mos
Sep 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'm absolutely in love with this new-to-me Beauty and the Beast variation and this particular presentation of it. First off: BEARS. Second: this is a picture book for the most discerning eye. Grafe's art is dark, sinister, and mysterious in all the right ways, but he manages to capture the light in a girl's face or the green of a coat to perfectly drive the story. Third: Schlitz's retelling is capable and starts off like gangbusters: "They say that when a man gives up hope, the devil walks at hi ...more
Katelyn Aronson
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I worked in the children's book industry for years, in several different capacities, and today I still actively collect the very best in illustrated children's books. I consider The Bearskinner to be the most powerful picture book I own. Never have I seen a picture book so honestly portray the darkness life can bring, while still championing hope and driving home the message, "No matter how hard things get, choose life. There will be a way out." What a valuable book to share with a (slightly old ...more
Nov 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: readin2007
I thought I had never read this story in Grimms, but I now see that I had. Laura Amy Schlitz's rendition is that of a true storyteller. She keeps the story but...rather than adding to the story, she sees what is behind the story and makes it manifest. The only true change - and it doesn't change the message of the story - is that the daughter with the true and compaasionate sight is the middle daughter. Hurrah for the middle child (for a change.) This would make a great story forthe slightly old ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
A grim Grimm fairy tale, beautifully told, about a soldier who makes a bargain with the devil and wins, with shades of "Beauty and the Beast" thrown in. Laura Amy Schlitz is a fantastic storyteller. Highly recommended for older (upper elementary) children. ...more
I reserved this book after noticing the Goodreads review by Elizabeth, and I second everything written there. Gorgeous, moody, creepy brown-tone illustrations, and a hard-to-forget tale of a deal with the devil. Would be great for sharing with older kids as a readaloud or storytelling; with the religious angle (the devil forbids the man to pray to god), you'd want to know your audience. Beautiful book. ...more
Scott Volz
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
A Beauty and the Beast variation adapted from the Grimm Brothers' version of the tale, The Bearskinner recounts a desperate soldier's game with the devil.

Though it's definitely aimed at an older audience of picture-book readers, The Bearskinner is beautifully written and even more beautifully illustrated. It has many philosophical underpinnings and is likely to be an enjoyable challenge to upper-elementary school readers that enjoy fairy tales.
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Nov 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
The text flows beautifully and the illustrations are evocative. I love the middle daughter's face and eyes! Someone did point out, though, that Bearskinner, although in the text gets more beast-like, the illustrations do not quite progress in that direction -- he still looked like a man with a bearskin coat even when the 7 years were almost over, facing the gambler's daughters. ...more
Mar 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jennifer by: Bulletin
The text is polished and excellent for reading aloud. The illustrations are dark with rare flashes of color and indistinct faces, but they set the mood perfectly. However, there is no source note and several reviewers mention that Schlitz has changed the ending slightly so a source note should have been included.
Jul 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this tale. Now I understand why Tender Morsels is a retelling. It all makes sense now!

The Illustrations are really gorgeous in this story. The text is probably entirely too long for a read aloud especially for beginner or intermediate language learners. Advanced ELLs may handle it well though.
Jennifer Nydahl
Dec 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: t-l-544, traditional
Genre: Traditional
Copyright: 2007

An unusual picture book, and not a typical choice for the classroom. This story is fairly dark, featuring a man and his deal with the devil to wear a bearskin suite for seven years in exchange for wealth. Their are many morals embedded within the story, leaving the reader with much to discuss at the close of the tale.
Mary Catelli
An odd little retelling of Bearskin (which you can read here).

I must warn that although it censors the (view spoiler) out of the ending, it does dwell on the soldier's desperation and trauma in a way that may be disturbing.
May 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone over the 4th grade level...good story!
Recommended to Nancy by: Library Journal
James and I just finished reading this story and he loved it. He did advise that children under the fifth grade might not want to read it because it's a bit scary. As we read I remembered reading this to my oldest son and he had similar comments. But both boys loved it. ...more
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Laura Amy Schlitz is an American author of children's literature. She is a librarian and storyteller at The Park School in Brooklandville, Maryland.

She received the 2008 Newbery Medal for her children's book entitled Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village,[1] and the 2013 Newbery Honor for her children's book, Splendors and Glooms.[2] She also won the 2016 Scott O'Dell Award fo

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