Children's books with bears as the protagonist! Difficulty: GIRL BEARS.
May 9, 2016 7:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a children's book where a girl bear is the point-of-view or main character. I know about the Berenstain Bears (Sister Bear) and the Care Bears, but I am hoping that there's an option that reads a bit more "classic literature," ideally in a nice hardback edition, as this is a present for a friend's young daughter whose preferences are in that realm.

When my friend had her two sons, I brought each of them their own bear and an accompanying book. Now, she's had a daughter, and I have been having a heckuva time trying to find a book with a girl bear as the main character, let alone a girl bear book that reads as "classic" literature. Corduroy is male. Paddington is male. Little Bear is male. Winnie the Pooh is male, even though he was actually a she (and Finding Winnie is lovely, but the boy human is the point-of-view character, and it's far more about what the boy human does with the girl bear than what the girl bear does herself).

Are there any classic or "new classic" books out there with a girl bear as the main point-of-view character? Not as a sidekick, not as the mama. If it seems like it could win (or has won!) the Caldecott and/or Newbury Medals or similar, that's pretty much ideal.
posted by Pandora Kouti to Writing & Language (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Amy the Dancing Bear by Carly Simon is full of wonderful drawings and is a very charming story.
posted by the webmistress at 7:46 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Polar Bear Night and Polar Bear Morning both look beautiful.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:46 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

What a great question. The only classic one I can think of is Mary Plain, but I'm not sure how those books hold up to a modern reading. I will see if we have any at the library tomorrow.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:56 PM on May 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

My girlfriend and I are outraged by the lack of female representation in bear-related media... We have been searching Google for a whole twenty seven minutes, and the best that we've found so far is Mary Plain, which seems to be in the vein of Winnie-the-Pooh. The books are fondly remembered by various people on GoodReads. However, they are out of print and probably most enjoyable when read aloud. Maybe the BBC audio adaptation is still available somewhere?
posted by zeee at 8:00 PM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

I loved the "Frances" series of books as a kid, and they feature a girl-bear protagonist!
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:07 PM on May 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I was just going to suggest Frances! Unfortunately, I believe she is a badger, rather than a bear. If species-matching is important to you, I think you could find a stuffed badger.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:10 PM on May 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

I thought of Frances right away, too, but it appears that she is actually a badger!
posted by fussbudget at 8:11 PM on May 9, 2016

This sweet book is about a little girl bear and her mom.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:44 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ernest and Celestine
posted by Ideefixe at 8:49 PM on May 9, 2016

Sister Bear. A human girl, a female bear cub, written by Jane Yolen.
posted by terooot at 9:14 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Can you "cheat" with koalas? Koala Lou looks pretty positive.

"There was once a baby koala, so soft and round that all who saw her loved her. Her name was Koala Lou.
Koala Lou is the first born in a large family. She feels sad because her mother seems too busy to pay her any attention. Perhaps if she wins the tree-climbing at the Bush Olympics her mother might notice her again . . . Koala Lou starts her training right away!"
posted by eisforcool at 9:26 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Children make terrible pets is a picture book about a female bear with a pet boy.
posted by brujita at 9:40 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hmm, does Blueberries for Sal work?
posted by bluedaisy at 10:43 PM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Kevin Henkes has some nice children's books about female mice, but not bears.
posted by OCDan at 11:01 PM on May 9, 2016

Thirding Mary Plain from the Bear Pit in Bern.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 11:40 PM on May 9, 2016

Perhaps you could try Daniel Pinkwater's Irving and Muktuk books. I'd always assumed that they are both male, but perhaps Muktuk is female. I don't know the name Muktuk and perhaps the bears genders are never discussed. Now I realize that it was quite presumptuous of me to assume that I know the gender of a bear named Muktuk.

It is probably a stretch though as they both appear frequently in matching typical male clothing.
posted by jazh at 3:31 AM on May 10, 2016

I remember Amanda's First Day of School quite fondly!
posted by amicamentis at 7:26 AM on May 10, 2016

See also: Cindy Bear Featuring Yogi Bear.
posted by amicamentis at 7:28 AM on May 10, 2016

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joose is a terrific book that might fit the bill. (It won a few awards but not the Caldecott or Newbery.)

It’s from the POV of a girl talking to her mother, obviously. She turns into various animals, at first playful and then increasingly fierce and boundary-pushing. At the climax (spoiler!) she turns into a polar bear with sharp shiny teeth to scare the crap out of her mama. (It all ends up OK. But feelings are real!)
posted by miles per flower at 8:14 AM on May 10, 2016

Blueberries for Sal is a Caldecott honor book - unfortunately the female bear is in fact a mama, so it's not perfect.
posted by Ausamor at 9:19 AM on May 10, 2016

Response by poster: These are awesome! Thank you for your help, everyone :)

jazh - I'm definitely open to gender-neutral or genderqueer bears in stories in general (I have an ursine surname, so libraries for any future Kouti Jr will be bear-heavy :) ), but on this particular quest, I kept running into so many instances of "could this bear be gender-neutral? Maybe? Maybe? Dammit, a 'he.'" that I was starting to wonder if I'd have to write a Girl Bears Being Awesome story myself and find an illustrator friend. Luckily, it looks like I have a number of potential options already out there!
posted by Pandora Kouti at 9:24 AM on May 10, 2016

Hush Little Polar Bear by Jeff Mack is a nice book. The bear is gender neutral and the human character is a girl. Also, the bear looks a lot like this Gund stuffed animal.
posted by Kriesa at 2:42 PM on May 15, 2016

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