Saturday, 8 April 2017

Review - The Berenstain Bears: Friendship Blessings Collection

ZonderKidz; 160 pages; $10.99; Amazon
Now available from ZonderKidz is The Berenstain Bears: Friendship Blessings Collection, featuring five picture books. The Berenstain Bears books were created by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Sadly, both the authors have passed away, but their son, Mike, has taken over the series by writing and illustrating new stories.

The collection includes:

Perfect Fishing Spot (originally published in ?) - Papa Bear wants fish for dinner. Instead of buying fish from Grizzly Fish, he takes Brother and Sister fishing.

Reap The Harvest (originally published in ?) - Brother and Sister Bear are out of school for the summer. They quickly become bored and start looking for a summer job to make some cash. The reply to a help wanted sign on Farmer Ben's farm. They get the job, but they don't get paid right away. Instead of giving the cubs cash, Framer Ben gives them a section of his crops.

Faithful Friends (originally published in 2009) Sister Bear befriends the new cub, Suzy, in school. Suzy doesn't have any other friends because she isn't like other cubs. Instead of playing, Suzy would rather be reading.

Kindness Counts (originally published in 2010) While getting ready to fly his model plane in the park, Brother Bear befriends a young cub named Billy, who also likes model planes.

God Made You Special (originally published in 2014) Sister Bear gets a little confused when she meets her best friend's cousin, Tommy. Tommy is the same age as Brother Bear, but mentally he acts a lot younger. Eventually, she learns that God made Tommy special from others.

Final Thoughts: I'm not for sure whether or not a few of the books in this collection have been changed from the original texts. To me, the "Perfect Fishing Spot" and "Reap The Harvest" feels like the Christian themes and Biblical scriptures were forced into the plot. Stan and Jan Berenstain's names are both credited on the two stories (as well as Mike). While reading them, I felt like I had read them before when I was a child, or at least similar stories. I also noticed that the youngest cub, Honey, wasn't in theses stories, which makes me believe the titles are a bit older than the other three in the collection.

"Faithful Friends" and "Kindness Counts" were written by Jan & Mike Berenstain. Both the stories have Christian themes, but neither feels forced upon the reader. "God Made You Special" written by Mike Berenstain is a well-written story that helps explains to young readers that sometimes God makes some people a little different from others.

Overall, I enjoyed reading The Berenstain Bears: Friendship Blessings Collection. While the Christian themes felt a little forced in two of the stories, the plots were never too preachy. All the stories have good moral messages for young readers.

*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

About the Authors: Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear books in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw those lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too. Though Stan died in 2005 and Jan in 2012 Mike continues to create the delightful Bear adventured from his studio in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks much like the sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country.

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