Three stories originally published as separate 40-page readers are repackaged as one longer chapter book.
In 1996 Kirkus described the title story as “A depressing fable.” Twenty years later the toy bear’s longing for a perfect father is even less appealing, with its pat, predictable, and cloying resolution. In the second story, a “Used-Up Bear” (originally published in 1998) imagines the worst—being discarded. Other, newer stuffed animals compound his distress with predictions that his owner, a white girl named Clara, will choose one of them to replace him. In the end, Clara refurbishes Bear with a flannel “bear suit” done in a red that is rather jarring against the simple line-and-watercolor art of pastel blues, lilacs, and yellows that predominate. In “Lonesome Bear” (2001), this rather insecure stuffed animal panics when he wakes up and sees that Clara is gone. As he searches for her he meets a rabbit who helps him make “Lost Girl” posters and a cat who tries to convince both of them that being on your own is really better. Predictably, Clara has also been searching for Bear and brings him, along with the rabbit and the cat, home to a cozy dinner.
While young ones will recognize Bear’s fears and appreciate the reassuring endings, this Bear doesn’t measure up to the most famous of anxiety-ridden bears. Winnie the Pooh is still a better choice for independent readers. (Fantasy. 6-9)