From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1–A sweet story about the simple happiness that comes from staying true to oneself. Big Bear outgrows his old boat and decides to build himself a bigger one. It is perfect: “You are just what I dreamed you would be,” Big Bear says. But his friends suggest improvements: a mast, a top deck, and a cabin, which turn the boat into a bit of a mess. Big Bear politely thanks his pals for their input, but says, “This boat is not my dream,” returns the boat to its original form, and happily rows around the lake. This follow-up to Bunting's Little Bear's Little Boat (Clarion, 2003) illustrates life lessons on listening to one's inner voice and respectfully sharing differences of opinion with a light touch. The quiet, straightforward text is in perfect harmony with the peaceful illustrations of the lake on which the animals live. Carpenter's pen, ink, and digital media images have a classic look. The kindness and honesty that Big Bear shows to his friends, even when they don't agree, is a positive example for kids learning how to socialize with peers.–Marian McLeod, Darien Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Once upon a time, Big Bear was a little bear who outgrew his boat and gave it away (Little Bear’s Little Boat, 2004). Now Big Bear is building a new vessel “just like my little boat, but bigger.” When he finishes, it’s bright blue with a white stripe and just the right size for Big Bear to stretch out in. Over at Huckleberry Lake, when it’s time to put her on the water, Beaver comes along and suggests Big Bear build a mast for his fine boat; then Otter suggests a top deck; and Heron, a cabin. Soon it looks nothing like the boat Big Bear always imagined. His friends understand that he’s unhappy, and after some dismantling, the boat is back to its perfect original state. With spare, gentle text and cozy ink-and-paint illustrations, this picture book is nostalgic in feel and has a simple, timeless message about following one’s dreams. We all want a little place to call our own, and kids will feel Big Bear’s satisfaction as he contentedly spends a day on the lake, listening to the water and watching the stars. Preschool. --Ann Kelley