The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter by Evelyn Scott

14bears.jpga Bookshelf book

This is a cherished book from my childhood that has totally stood the test of time. You know how sometimes you remember a book so fondly and then you see it again as an adult and think it’s kind of lame? This is not one of them. The copy pictured on The Bookshelf is actually a new reissue. When I found out it was being republished I immediately purchased copies for myself and my two brothers. I do still own the original and it is quite tatty by now, in addition to missing the the glorious last page, and having many of the bears sporting mustaches, goatees, and hats drawn on by various kids. I couldn’t wait to get the new copy and see that missing page. Disappointingly the size of the book is not the same oversize as the original and the pages are shiny instead of matte paper (like the original.) However, being able to see the final spread? Awesome.

So what makes this book so special? Mostly the pictures. There are a Mama and Papa bear and their twelve children, who have wonderfully rhyming names like Flora and Dora, and Hannah and Johanna. Each bear lives in her own tree and here is where it all happens for me. We get to see inside each tree and how each bear has decorated it. When I was little I would pore over these pictures and try to decide which tree I would live in. The one that looked like a medieval castle? Or how about the cozy dutch kitchen? Maybe the farmhouse? Or the mod 60s one? We also get to see the matching bedrooms for each of these little houses. In the winter story the bears wake up from their hibernation to experience winter fun and end up decorating their trees. This was where my missing page was and it was so sad to not be able to see how all the trees looked. Some had pinecone decorations, others swags of fabric, others shiny gold and silver things–it was a winter wonderland!

A very charming old story that any child would enjoy looking at again and again! (That said, I tried to read this to my 2 year old the other day and every time I started he brought me a different book to read instead. Perhaps in a couple years he’ll enjoy it more.)

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