Cover image for The bear in my family
The bear in my family
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm
"It's not easy living with a bear, but one little boy learns that sometimes, a bear in the family can end up to be the best thing in the world"--


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An overbearing older sibling can really be a bear, but the child in this understated, gently humorous story finds out that they can have their advantages, too.

"I live with a bear," the story's young narrator declares. The bear is loud, messy, uncouth, and very strong (too strong!). For some reason, his parents treat the bear like family, despite his protests. Why can't they see? Then he runs into some bullies on the playground. When the bear ROOAARS with all her might and scares them away, he realizes that there are advantages to having a bear in the family. In a delightful twist, the narrator's older sister (the bear) appears, telling him that she is NOT a bear. But if she is, HE is too--because two bears are even better than one!

Author Notes

Maya Tatsukawa is a children's book illustrator and designer residing just outside of Boston. The Bear in My Family is her first book.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-K--"I live with a bear" states the book's unnamed human boy. As he describes it, this is one scary bear, with a loud roar, fierce appetite, and bossy attitude. Family or not, his parents just don't understand. After some further reflection and an interaction with a few neighborhood bullies, the boy sees the benefits of having a bear-ish older sibling. Tatsukawa's tale features endearing artwork. Sentences and a handful of dialogue balloons are brief, leaving most of the room for the digitally textured art, which almost looks like stamp work. For a debut title, this picture book is very well paced, and nicely emphasizes how even children at odds can connect. As the boy learns, sometimes they will get on each other's nerves, but they are there for each other; they are family. VERDICT Simple and sweet. A story that should resonate with siblings.--Rachel Forbes, Oakville Public Library, Ont.

Publisher's Weekly Review

"I live with a bear," says the narrator, a boy in a yellow sweater. Said bear, who is big and blue and sleeps in the next room over, is a piece of work: loud, bossy, a food-swiper ("Too slow!" blurts the bear, grabbing some of the boy's breakfast), and a noogie-giver. The boy's parents will hear nothing of the bear's boorishness: "For some reason, my parents think the bear is family." But when bullies at the park target the boy, having a bear in the family suddenly comes in handy. "ROOAARR!" says the bear, and the bullies scurry away. Maybe the bear is kind of like having... a big sister? Debut author Tatsukawa puts a fresh spin on a familiar story of sibling estrangement and rapprochement, with a precocious, comically plaintive protagonist and naïf digital images that have the look of textured paper. The bear, while made of simple shapes with minimal detail, puts off a totemic sense of authority and a preadolescent insouciance-- a powerful combination that any younger sibling should instantly recognize. Ages 4--8. (Mar.)

Horn Book Review

A child asserts that there is a bear in his family, and indeed the illustrations show a little boy sharing space with a large gray creature. "Scary, right?" The bear is loud, bossy, and messy. Though the grownups don't see it, we do, as the bear roars the protagonist awake, hogs the chips, and effortlessly picks the boy up and dangles him upside down. Viewers may catch on early that the "bear" is in fact an older sibling. A clever family photo shows Mom holding a newborn (whose blanket matches the main character's sweater) and Dad with a cub on his shoulders; the text reads, "For some reason, my parents think the bear is family." One day, after being sent outside to play, the boy is sitting dejectedly on a swing. When some bullies arrive, he experiences the upside of having a bear (and big sister) in his corner. The digitally created art "with handmade textures" is spare, with rounded edges and subdued hues that defuse the anger and de-claw the danger. Younger sibs everywhere should relate to our protagonist's point of view-and to his eventual realization: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Elissa Gershowitz May/June 2020 p.111(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A young boy describes the bear that lives with him.The story opens on the face of an unhappy kid who lives with a bear. The protagonist goes on to show a diagram of the bear, who has "sharp teeth," "mean eyes," and "strong arms." The bear is loud, roaring when the narrator is trying to sleep. The bear is "messy," "bossy," and "always hungry," even stealing the narrator's food. The bear is "strong" and plays a little rough. The kid tries to tell Mom, but she dismisses the protagonist, suggesting some outside play in the park. At the park, three bigger kids start bullying the narrator, who suddenly wishes there were a bear to help outand there's the bear! After this rescue, the kid realizes that sometimes having a bear can be pretty great. It seems having a bear in the family is a lot like having an older sibling. Tatsukawa writes and illustrates a metaphorical but completely accessible tale for any child who has an older sibling. Displayed in a combination of printed text and hand-lettered speech bubbles, the writing is simple and straightforward. The illustrations have a textured-paper look, with cute details, such as the protagonist's bee sweater and the lion, snake, and shark sweaters the bullies wear. Narrator and family present Asian, and the other kids have a variety of skin tones and hair colors.A thoroughly charming take on sibling relationships. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

For a young boy, there's one household member he doesn't quite get along with: a bear. The bear is bossy, scary, and annoying, and what Bear considers fun like holding him upside-down really isn't. But according to his parents, the bear is family. But when the boy has a run-in with bigger kids at the park, the bear proves to be a helpful protector, and gradually, the boy starts to recognize some of the nice things about having a bear in the family. Eventually, the bear's real-life identity is revealed in an upbeat, playful conclusion little siblings will surely be able to relate to. Tatsukawa's animated, soft-textured digital illustrations in cool tones depict the bear and human characters in blocky, expressive shapes, which nicely extend the boy's straightforward, sometimes droll narrative. While some younger kids might not immediately catch on to the metaphor, little ones with older siblings in particular will likely appreciate the boy's gradually shifting perspective, as well as the warm portrayal of the multifaceted nature of sibling relationships.--Shelle Rosenfeld Copyright 2020 Booklist