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The Berenstain Bears and the Big Question Paperback – October 12, 1999

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Series: First Time Books(R)
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (October 12, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679889612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679889618
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #550,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Christine M. Irvin on January 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
In The Berenstain Bears and the Big Question, Mama and Papa Bear attempt to answer the "big question." When Sister Bear asks, "What's God?" Papa Bear launches into a long, boring lecture about the universe; Mama tries to answer the question by showing Sister that God made everything, like clouds and trees and worms. But, when Sister continues to ask, "What about earthquakes, floods, fires, and tornadoes?" Mama is at a loss on how to respond.

So, she takes her family to the chapel in the woods where they attend a Sunday morning service (although, according to the storyline, they are not accustomed to doing so). The minister, instead of delivering a sermon that particular morning, allows members of the congregation to speak. Farmer Ben says, "I feel thankful to God for giving us such a beautiful land in which to live." Grizzly Gran then says, "I feel thankful to God for two wonderful cubs." Mama Bear takes a turn by saying, ". . . I'm glad we came this morning. It helps me think things through."

The story ends after the service, on the walk home, when Sister Bear asks, "Did God make questions?" Papa answers by saying, "Yes, sister, mostly questions."

The illustrations in the book are bright, colorful, whimsical pictures of the Berenstain Bear family and friends. Most illustrations cover a single page, but there are a few double-page spreads, as well as two pages that contain several small cameo-like illustrations on each page.

What I Like: This is not the usual type of Berenstain Bear book. They tend to stick to subjects that deal with family and personal values, like being honest, taking turns, and saying you're sorry. So, I was glad to see them write a book with a Christian perspective.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By E. Estrada on March 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
I find it amusing that this book has gotten one star and five stars from people who identify as Christians. On one hand, the Berenstain bears go to "church," which Christian readers approve of, OTOH, there is no mention of Jesus or the Bible.

Sister asks the Big Question of Mama, which is "What is God?" Mama answers telling her that God is the creator of everything. Then Sister asks if God created bad things like stomach aches, hurricanes and germs that make people sick and Mama has no easy answer. Mama and Sister see the grandparent bears "going to Sunday meeting" in their Sunday meeting clothes. They join them. The preacher tells the assembled that today, the congregation is going to be the "preachers" and they should stand up when they have something that they want to say.

As a Quaker, I'm delighted to read this book to my kids since that's pretty much the experience of going to an unprogrammed Quaker meeting. The building that the bears go to has no cross visible, though it is obviously a church with stained glass windows. There are no obvious symbols of Christianity present. The bears get up and speak about their gratitude to God and their love for one another. The book isn't intended as a polemic to give a catechistic definition of God. It asks children to consider one of the deepest questions of all, what is God and if God created everything, why is there suffering? There is no doctrinaire answer, the book is a jumping off point for discussion between parent and child. Each person must answer the Big Question for him/herself and it would be absurd that this little paperback book of less than 20 pages is expected to give any reader definitive answers. That's the job of parents, not Jan and Stan Berenstain.
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53 of 70 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This Book is one of my favorites out of the Berestain Bear Collection. The book deals with the question how did we come to be, who created us ? The writers give their view by taking the family to church and show what they learn. This book is a rare collection and it gives me great pleasure to know that my kids can read a book like this. Coming from a strong Christain home I can say this book hits a spot on our family book case.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Light on August 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
First of all, let's just get a few things straight:
I grew up on the Berenstain Bears, and I still enjoy reading the older ones (written by Stan and Jan) to my daughter, who is currently obsessed with them. We read a LOT of bear books. This is one of the worst (along with "the Bully" and "Go to Sunday School" but that's for other reviews).
It wasn't until the Berenstains' son started to get involved in writing the books, that they took on a decidedly "Christian" flavor, although much more in favor of nostalgic Americana civil religion.
It doesn't say so for this printing, but the edition I have (newer) is published by Zondervan, which is a "Christian" publisher, as part of their Living Lights series. Most of the new ones are. That should give you a clue as to what to expect in the book, if you know anything about Zondervan.
On to the book itself: in summary, Sister starts getting thoughtful about who God is and some of the hard questions about life, Papa offers a 'boring lecture' and is quickly dismissed by Mama, who tells her all she needs to know is God created all the beautiful flowers and butterflies and everything is so wonderful. When Sister starts to probe deeper, Mama runs out of answers and suggests they go to the Chapel in the Woods with Gramps and Gran. You might, at this point, expect Sister to get her questions answered. Wrong. Instead of the preacher even offering a sermon, or anyone asking him their 'Big Questions', he decides that the congregation is going to share what they are thankful for. Sister, obviously bored, sits through the sharing time, and then they leave.
So, did God create calamity? You would never know by the time you're done reading this book.
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