Book Review: Little Bear, You're a Star!

Reading Level

Ages 4-8

Also by this author

Let's Go, Pegasus

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Complicated subjects don't always have to be presented in complicated ways. Such is the case with this wonderful book by Jean Marzollo, which retells the ancient Greek myth of the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor as Big Bear and Little Bear. It's the traditional telling, all right, but it's presented in such a way that the intended readers of this book will not at all be lost in the story or its presentation.

The illustrations, also by Marzollo, emphasize, in particular, the youth of Arcas, or Little Bear, as he goes through the early years of his life. The author emphasizes the bond of mother and child, which begins as mother and child, morphs to bear and child and then to bear and cub, and ends as constellations in the sky for all to see. At each stage, the reader is reminded of how much Callisto, the mother, loves her son, Arcas, and how much she wants to be with him even though they are in no way alike. The subtle theme here is that being different doesn't preclude people from loving one another.

The mythical elements are here as well, especially the antics of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Greek gods; but these antics turn out to be for the ultimate good of mother and child. In the end, Callisto and Arcas become part of the night sky, for all to see as they travel. Little Bear's tail, it turns out, is the North Star (hence, the book's title).

Another nice touch is the birds motif at the bottom of each page. The righthand-facing page of each two-page spread has birds, just like the lefthand-facing page does; but the right pages have birds that talk. These talking birds help tell parts of the story that are not central to the plot development but nonetheless are important details.

Perhaps older readers would want more constellations in the sky to look at, in order to locate the North Star and the Big Bear. For younger readers, however, this book has just enough—to challenge them to learn but also to help them feel that they have learned something.


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