Don’t Blame the Bear! : A Review of Horrible Bear by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora

It’s happened to all of us…. we’re innocent in an event that goes horribly wrong. We caused a problem simply by “being” somewhere.

I’ll never forget the time my mom was changing ink cartridges in the printer and was very carefully carrying one to the trash. I bumped her, she dropped it, and it went all over her new, white carpet.

It was HORRIBLE.

And guess who got the blame? Me.

So, I could relate to the poor bear in Ame Dyckman’s Horrible Bear, illustrated by Zachariah OHora. When a slumbering bear gets the blame for a broken kite, a girl tromps and stomps all through the meadow and into town, advertising what a big, horrible bear he is. She stomps in her room and proclaims over and over again, “HORRIBLE BEAR!”, and soon begins to see horrible bears every where.

In sad reality, the poor bear was not so horrible- he had just turned over in his sleep. But that’s not what the girl saw.

So, what’s an innocent bear to do? Become horrible.

Bear now stomps through his cave and lumbers through the meadow.

Meanwhile, the girl accidentally breaks a favorite toy.

And her eyes are opened.

Accidents can happen.

By the time bear arrives, the girl is ready to apologize. And everything is patched up.

This is going to be an important book for children as accidents happen every day. In my own classroom, I can recall coats being stepped on, marker wiped down a friend’s white dress, potted plants falling and shattering, and more.

And what is our original response? (Mine included!)
HORRIBLE FRIEND!
HORRIBLE CLASSMATE!
HORRIBLE STUDENT!

But when we calm down, take a breath, and realize that accidents are part of life, we can be ready to forgive rather than to blame someone for being horrible and becoming horrible ourselves.

Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora have weaved a wonderful tale about what it means to be horrible… and what it means to forgive. Zachariah’s signature illustrations lend themselves so well to Dyckman’s concrete storytelling.

This is a treasure you’ll want to own and share. It’s one of those very important books.

(Oh- as for the nail polish- it took some time, and a few new square inches of carpet- but it was resolved. And I’m no longer horrible.)

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