Friday, February 13, 2015

PPBF: Bearskin

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Bearskin, by Howard Pyle and Trina Schart Hyman
Afterward by Peter Glassman
Written by Howard Pyle
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Books of Wonder, 1997
grades K-3

Fairy Tale, Diversity

"There was a king traveling through the country, and he and those with him were so far away from home that darkness caught them by the heels and they had to stop at a stone mill for the night, because there was no other place handy. While they sat at supper they heard a sound in the next room, and it was a baby crying."

In typical Pyle fashion, a King hears a prophesy that the miller's son will marry his daughter. He is outraged, takes the baby, and hands it off to a servant to be destroyed. The huntsman's wife takes pity on him, but instead of going to live with seven dwarfs (ahem) he is put into a pitch-lined basket and set adrift on the river (sound familiar?). The baby is raised by a magical bear, but eventually seeks to make his way among his own kind. Bearskin, as he is now known, falls in love with the princess. With the help of three wishes, Bearskin makes a fool of his rival, vanquishes a dragon, and wins the hand of the princess, just like the wise man saw in the stars. An old-fashioned fairy-tale with golden-age sensibilities and modern illustrations. Not-to-be-missed.

What I Love:
A great pick for romantics  for Valentine's Day. I love Pyle's nostalgic writing style. I love this gorgeous edition with lavishly diverse illustrations by the late Trina Schart Hyman. I love Peter Glassman's afterward: "In creating new art for this century-old tale, Trina Schart Hyman, like Pyle before her, has taken the story to another level. In her illustrations, we are introduced to a fairy-tale kingdom in which people of different races live, love, work, and play together . . . inspiring all who visit this fairy-tale realm to strive to make our own everyday world more like it."

The poem for six o'clock,
from The Wonder Clock,
illustrated by Howard Pyle.
1. This story originally appeared in Pyle's The Wonder Clock. With twenty-four stories, one for each hour, illustrated by the author, it is sure to inspire a new generation of dreamers. Available from Dover Publications.
2. Find out more about Howard Pyle and his influence on a generation of artists at the Delaware Art Museum and the Brandywine River Museum of Art.
3.  Visit Peter Glassman's Books of Wonder in New York. You can see Trina Schart Hyman's Work at Books of Wonder, R. Michaelson Galleries, and Hofstra.
4. Celebrate diversity. Reinvent traditional fairy tales with a new spin, set them in modern times, in a different culture, with a diverse cast, as Bearskin does. Se where your imagination takes you.
5. Bearskin has an opulent picnic during his adventures. If, like me, the view from your window is unchanging white, then a picnic is in order!
6. Check out these and other Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Fairy tales from around the world
by Trina's daughter Katrin Tchana
Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Joanna

The Market Bowl, by Jim Averbeck

Reviewed by Wendy

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for February 13, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. This was one of my favorite fairy tales when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing it today.

    1. That's cool! I didn't discover it until I was almost thirty. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. What a great fairy tale to share today. I remember reading it as a child -- as that is mostly what young kids read in the 50s. The book really matches your blog header/theme. Love to see it updated with such gorgeous illustrations!

    1. I hope you love it as much as you did when you were younger. Thanks for the compliment. Trina will always be my hero.

  3. Replies
    1. Me, too! We'll have to fan-girl over a pot of tea sometime.

  4. Lavish IS the word for those illustrations. Love them!

  5. The edgy plots and emotions in fairy tales always startle me. I haven't seen this one.

    1. Have you read the original Hans my Hedgehog? Eww.

  6. Beautiful story and lavish illustrations are what fairy tales are made of. Lovely thanks for sharing.

  7. I haven't read this one, but sounds like it includes a bit of everything. I agree lavish illustrations. Thanks for adding it to the list.

  8. I'm not familiar with Bearskin, but like everyone else, I'm quite taken with these illustrations!!! Thanks for sharing this one!!!

    1. Always happy to point a new reader to Trina Schart Hyman's work. Thanks.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!