The Bear That Wasn’t There
Outskirts Press (2021)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (09/2022)
“The Bear That Wasn’t There” written and illustrated by Cheryl Charanian, is an adorable teddy-bear themed children’s book that any teddy bear fan will enjoy. If you’ve ever had or loved a teddy bear, or a child that does, this story is very relatable. The main character of this teddy tale is Megan, and her favorite toy, a teddy named Bear Bear, becomes lost to her at the London airport when she is with her parents. Sadly, she has to get on the plane without Bear Bear, but a boy finds him and gets on a plane with it that is bound for Florida. A lost toy, especially a teddy bear, can be really troubling for a child, and this point is well-executed when Megan sets a place for the missing bear at her tea party table. She even prays for him to come back to her, which is such a sweet, innocent, and honest reaction for some children. This wasn’t the first time she’d misplaced Bear Bear, but before, she always found him at the last second. This time it was different, and she missed him terribly.
Charanian knows how to get into the heart of a child, and this story will touch adults, too. We learn of the times Bear Bear had been comforted—when she was sad or angry. Unbeknownst to Megan, the little boy who had found Bear Bear and had taken him onto the plane had now left him behind on a bus. This sets a chain of events that follows the bear from location to location, and child to child. A fresh premise for a children’s story.
Young readers will become involved in Megan’s emotional situation, and the unplanned travels of Bear Bear, which include New York, California, and other locations. I like how the author brings the entire concept together, and also includes a bit of geography and culture. There is also poignancy in the story, as Bear Bear ends up with a boy who has cancer. This little story packs a big message about faith, and how things outside of our control can often lead to positive outcomes.
Does Megan get her teddy bear back? You will just have to read to the end to find out, and it’s this bit of suspense that will appeal to reading audiences of all ages. If you like heartwarming stories with realism and a touch of mystery, you will love “The Bear That Wasn’t There” by Cheryl Charanian. It would make a great kid’s movie!