THE TEDDY BEAR TREE by Barbara Dillon


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The teddy bear tree shoots up at a phenomenal rate as soon as little Bertine plants (or, in her view, buries) a beady eye that is all she has left after the neighbor's dog takes off with the scruffy old 25¢ teddy bear she has half-heartedly bought at a rummage sale. It's an unpromisingly cuddly notion, but there's a nice clean ring to the harvest: When a heavy overnight rain turns the buds to fully-formed teddy bears, Bertine plucks the first one from the tree, noticing ""a rather pleasant odor of damp plush and newly turned earth. . . . The little green stem by which he was attached to his branch snapped crisply, like a fresh string bean."" And though the story then becomes a little lesson in sharing, it's a gentle, sympathetic one, told with a direct, disarming credulity. Though forced to give one of the ten bears to sister Lucy, Bertine refuses to part even momentarily with any of the others. For that, the neighbor children decide to shun her, and even Joel, the one special bear who speaks to her when they're alone, advises her to give away most of the other bears. They too need special attention, he says--but Bertine refuses, though she finds it hard to attend to all nine charges. Finally, however, a rash of terrible mischief disrupts the household--the perpetrators are really the bears, led by Joel, but Bertine gets the blame--and so she arranges a neighborhood party where each guest is given his or her own bear. A cozy little story, then, with the appeal as well as the limitations that that suggests.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow