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The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bear Hardcover – July 1, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jörg Steiner is a writer and former teacher at a juvenile corrections facility. Jörg Müller is the author and illustrator of several books, including The Changing City and The Changing Countryside. He is the recipient of the Hans Christian Anderson Award for Illustration.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 4
  • Hardcover: 44 pages
  • Publisher: Heryin Books, Inc.; Tra edition (July 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976205602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976205609
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
92%
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2 star
8%
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See all 12 customer reviews
This was my favorite book as a child.
Sean M. Miller
It is a work of art, combining a multilayered story that comments on industrialism, identity, and the world of work, with astonishing drawings by Jorg Muller.
Paul Hainsworth
Adults find so many messages, about being who you really are, social injustice and ultimately freedom.
Cheryl King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I have been unable to locate "The Bear Who Wanted To Be A Bear" anywhere! The last time I read this story was about 20 years ago. My family and I still talk about it fondly and with many happy memories.
The book is about a bear who is lost and confused and not sure what his calling in life is. He tries to find himself by taking on a variety of jobs such as joining a circus, working in a factory...
Eventually, he listens to his heart and realizes who he is and what he needs and wants to do.
The illustrations for this book have a very playful and animated 70's style. One particular page I remember quite vividly as do my siblings is where the bear takes a job in a factory. The illustration displays the inside of a factory filled with a twisted maze of foreign equipment made of pipes, wires and gadgets. My brother, sister and I would take turns making the sound effects for each piece of equipment and imagining how the machines operated.
Sometimes I wonder if the books I loved as a child were great because of the actual story or because of the wonderful memories I have with my family reading them to me. Either way, this book is sure to do the same for others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The previous reviewer has gotten a few details of the story wrong - who wouldn't, remembering a childhood favorite. In this picture book translation from German, a bear wakes up from his winter's nap to find his forest has been razed. He meets a man from the newly built factory, who puts him to work there. By winter, he realizes where he really belongs. Although originally published in 1976, the book's design gives it a very contemporary look; sort of an Anthony Browne meets Chris Van Allsburg, with dark, detailed art and text boxes. Hey, you publishers out there - get this book back in print! Patti McLaughlin, Children's Librarian, The Free Library of Philadelphia
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Hainsworth on August 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just received a copy of the book on the weekend as a 30th birthday present from my Dad, who used to read this book to my brother and I when we were growing up. It is easily my favorite picture book from my childhood. My Dad didn't want to part with his copy of it, one of his more prized possessions, so he tracked down one for me on Amazon.

In my opinion, the book is far more than a simple children's book. It is a work of art, combining a multilayered story that comments on industrialism, identity, and the world of work, with astonishing drawings by Jorg Muller.

If folks know of other works of Jorg Muller or Jorg Steiner (the author), I'd love to hear from you at paul at hainsworth dot com.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jim Harris on March 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read most of the reviews of this "classic" children's book. My parents read this book to me when I was a kid in the mid-to-late 1940's. I bought an edition for our son in the 1980's. I am now trying to buy two more copies for my grand-nephews. Forget the the politics & philosophy. This is purely a treat to read and to have!
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for my kids the year it came out. They loved it and treasure the memory of every bit of the story.

No matter how many times they read it or what their reading level was they felt for the bear, suffered his frustration, ached for his situation and laughed at the people who could not see a bear for being a bear.

The pictures tell their own story. A child doesn't even have to be a reader to appreciate the situations the bear encounters. Among the more memorable are the one where the bear is looking at a bear skin rug, the look on his face is something that is hard to forget, in a series of pictures the bear works his way up the corporate ladder, each person in the series is more expensively dressed until finally he meets the biggest boss of all... who has a hole in his shoe!

I've used this book to teach about social class, capitalism and the construction of self. The real beauty of this book lies in its accessibility... the youngest children hear the story and root for the bear, older kids find themselves seeing injustice being done, those more politically aware are exposed to environmentalism and issues about how the world works. Adults find so many messages, about being who you really are, social injustice and ultimately freedom.

I can see why therapists use it. I can also see why someone might find it subversive. But it is delciously subversive in the way a great dessert is, satisfying to the mind and soul in a way that only the greatest books are.
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By Ariel Mc. on March 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's not often a person can say a children's book changed the way they saw the world - the usual authors would include Chris Van Allsburg and Shel Silverstein, yet I would add the works of Jorg Steiner and Jorg Mueller. "The Bear Who Wanted to Be A Bear", "Rabbit Island", and "The Changing Countryside" touch on very delicate topics of self-discovery (who am I vs. how does the world see me?), animal welfare and the concept of working freedom vs. caged comfort, and the impact of urban growth on the environment in a way that children can grasp and without the stories seeming preachy. I received this book when I was very young and it touched me deeply. Reading it later to my little patrons at the library, I saw the story retains all of its beauty and message - it's a staple with my classes and leads to great discussions about identity and excepting others for who they are - this can be on a deep or very basic level, so no worries about anything controversial here.

I am waiting for other stories by these authors to be translated into English, but in the meantime these are books that will be treasured for years. I can't wait to share these with my children and grandchildren. I just hope these authors will one day be recognized for being as brilliant as those mentioned above.
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