Cover image for Letters from Bear
Letters from Bear
Uniform Title:
Lettres de l'ourse. English
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Reading Level:
610 Lexile.
Bear sends updates on her adventures as she travels to visit Bird, who has migrated south for the winter.


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Bear can't imagine a whole winter without her friend, so when Bird migrates south, Bear decides to follow. She's never left the forest before, but that won't stop her from crossing oceans and mountains--and sending letters along the way. But a surprise is waiting for Bear on the beach...

Richly told in amusing letters and lush illustrations, this adventurous story invites readers to consider just how far they'd go for their friends.

Author Notes

Gauthier David is a children's author, illustrator, and singer-songwriter. He has collaborated on several books with his partner Marie Caudry. Letters from Bear is their English-language debut. Gauthier and Marie live with their children in the Drôme, France, at the edge of a forest where they can sometimes see wolves. Visit his website at .

Marie Caudry is a graduate of the Fine Arts School of Bordeaux and has illustrated a number of books. Three days before the birth of their child Arto, Marie began a series of paintings about globe-trotting bears-and these paintings inspired Gauthier to write the story of Letters from Bear . Visit Marie's website at or follow her on Instagram @mariecaudry.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2--Written in a series of letters, this enchanting book blends adventure and friendship with a dreamy dose of Alice in Wonderland--esque happenings. Bird has headed south for the winter, and Bear, who just can't seem to face their separation or hunker down to hibernate, decides to venture join Bird "on the other side of the world." In a series of missives to be delivered by the wind, the intrepid traveler relates numerous exploits further illuminated by the detailed illustrations: Bear encounters huge tracks in a dark forest where menacing shadow figures shimmer in the background, is snagged in a fishing net and saved by a spell-casting mermaid, stumbles into a ghostly battlefield filled with sword-wielding warriors and neighing horses, attends a birthday party with all manner of creatures dressed in costume, crosses the sea in a hollowed-out tree trunk, and much more. Finally reaching Bird's tropical island, Bear discovers that his just-as-lonely friend has already headed back north, and makes return travel arrangements as dazzling as the rest of the escapades. VERDICT Readers will enjoy this journey filled with mystery and wonder, and perhaps be inspired to pen a letter to a loved one delineating their own amazing undertakings.--Joy Fleishhacker, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bear's friend Bird has flown south, to an "island in the sun," and Bear is blue. In this epistolary tale, Bear's first letter to Bird is plaintive: "Why do you have to migrate every year?" Unable to bear the separation, Bear heads south to find Bird in a string of staccato adventures, writing letters all the way. Gentle, remarkable scenes of surreality drawn by Caudrey can take a moment to scan: volcanoes have human heads that spew smoke; a bird wearing wooden stilts heads to a costume party. ("I made a kingfisher mask out of clay," Bear writes about his own costume. "It's almost as if you were here.") Caught in a battle, Bear hides in a tree stump as knights on horseback tumble across the page like interlocking puzzle pieces. When Bear reaches the south at last, friends reveal that Bird isn't there, a setback that eventually gives way to a joyful reunion. David tempers the adversity Bear faces by giving magical invention free rein, and Caudry responds with images of equally startling richness. Ages 5--9. (Mar.)

Horn Book Review

In a picture book told entirely in letters, Bear misses good friend Bird, who has migrated south for the winter, so much that Bear decides first to write to Bird every day and then to skip hibernating and come "find you on the other side of the world." The book then traces Bear's fraught journey-sometimes perilous, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes quite surreal. Arriving to find that Bird had decided to head back north to spend the winter with Bear is a temporary disappointment, but Bird's friends devise a way to expeditiously return Bear home. Bear's letters are certainly enough to hold readers' attentions ("Dear Bird, I'm writing to you from the top of a volcano. The earth is the color of night here, and the stones are scalding hot"), but it's the paintings that will keep them riveted. Whether depicting a dark forest in whose shadows huge trolls and alligator-like creatures lurk; or the chaos and noise and destruction of war; or whales blending and merging with ocean waves-the paintings tell captivating stories all on their own. (Information on the copyright page informs us that Caudry made the paintings first, and they later inspired David to write the text.) A unique picture book about friendship, adventure, and the wonders of the world. Martha V. Parravano May/June 2020 p.94(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

When migratory Bird wings off for the winter, devoted Bear undertakes a long and perilous journey to follow.In a series of letters entrusted to the wind, Bear records each stage of the trek. It begins with a venture into scary, dark woods, then goes on to record: Bear's rescue from a fisherman's net by a mermaid, the ursine's narrow escape from a battle between two mounted armies, a desert crossing, an odd but pleasant respite at a squirrel's 100th birthday party, and other experiences. These culminate in an ocean crossing and landfall at last on a tropical islandwhere Bear discovers that Bird has already flown off northward. Caudry's illustrations actually preceded and inspired the storyline. In them she depicts an animistic landscape in which cliff faces in one scene are actually faces, ocean waves become whales at second glance, and creatures met along the way are often extravagantly costumed or sport chimerical features. For all its simple phrasing, the epistolary narrative is infused with longing ("I'm so excited at the idea of being near you. / It fills me with courage. / Your Bear isn't very far away now!"). By leaving both the relationship and the genders of the two principals unspecified, the narrative allows for a broad range of readings. Occasional human figures among the largely animal cast are uniformly light skinned.Readers will find this journey poignant, strange, atmospheric, and, ultimately, joyful. (Picture book. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Travel to a mysterious land where birds and bears can be the same size, shadowed forests pose vague threats, volcanoes erupt with human expressions, and animals hide in burned-out trees to escape the dangers of war. This land also has mermaids though, and a squirrel celebrating his 100th birthday with a party resembling a gentle "wild rumpus," complete with costumed children dancing among wild boars, wolves, and lynxes. A melancholy bear shares her adventures as she forgoes hibernation in order to travel south in search of her friend, Bird, who has migrated away. The faithful bear sends letters--translated from the original French--from many places along the journey, capturing the highs and lows with a determined spirit. Caudry, whose paintings inspired the story, fills the pages with finely etched, dull-toned landscapes, inhabited by wondrous, wide-eyed creatures. In a twist worthy of O. Henry, Bear arrives on a warm island only to find that Bird, too, was unhappy being separated and went back north. Bird's friends devise a nest-like conveyance to carry Bear home, a flight that provides a sweeping aerial view of the land Bear has traversed. With no further need for letters, the final two-page spread is a wordless, emotional embrace, with flowers and baby animals signaling the arrival of spring.