Bear and Bird

Cover: Bear and Bird

One spring evening an old bear finds a young bird, still learning to fly, has fallen to the ground. When the bear lifts the bird to safety, a friendship begins. Bear and Bird soon become constant companions, spending their days together, searching out berries and watching out for one another. They are only separated during the winter months when Bear hibernates and Bird flies south. As the years pass, their friendship grows stronger. Then one spring day, when Bird returns from his winter trip, Bear is not there to greet him. Days and then weeks pass and still no Bear. When Bird finally learns why his dear friend is absent, memories of their time together bring comfort and acceptance. In this tale of an unlikely but loving friendship, the cycle of life, including its joys and its sorrows, is gently explored.



  • Dewey: E
  • Hardcover (9781585368358): 40 pages, 9 (w) x 11 (h), © 2014, 02/04/2014
  • PDF (9781627537308): 40 pages, © 2014, 03/15/2014
  • Hosted ebook (9781627537513): 40 pages, © 2014, 03/15/2014


  • Suggested Interest Level: Age 6 - Age 8
  • Suggested Reading Level: Grade 3
  • Lexile® Measure: 500
  • Guided Reading Level: M
  • ATOS Reading Level: 2.7
  • ATOS Interest Level: LG
  • Accelerated Reader® Quiz: 165739
  • Accelerated Reader® Points: 0.5

BISAC Subjects


School Library Journal - Bear and Bird

An unlikely friendship develops between an older bear and a baby bird after one helps the other. Over the years, they spend time together sharing berries and keeping each other safe. Although they hate saying goodbye each autumn, they dream about their spring reunions. One year Bird cannot find Bear and learns about his friend’s death from her grandson. “Bear went into her den last autumn for the winter sleep. But she did not come out this spring. She is gone.” Bird is reminded that although death touches us all, it’s okay to be sad and that instead of being alone with our memories, it’s better to share them or, better yet, make more with a new friend. Younger children may find the text too wordy and drawn out, but Thermes’s illustrations are bright and appealing. The animals express their sadness with their eyes and posture, but there are no tears, and the mood is sorrowful, not bleak and dreary.–Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada

Booklist Review - Bear and Bird

When a young robin falls from his nest, Bear helps out by lifting him into a tree, thus cementing a new friendship in this story about the cycle of life. Throughout that season and for many years to come, the young bird and old bear meet in the meadow sharing berries and conversation. Only during the winter, when Bird has migrated and Bear is hibernating, are the two apart. Bird is heartbroken one spring when he returns to the meadow and Bear is gone. His sorrow is mitigated when he makes a new friend that has much in common with the old bear. Bright, guileless pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations vary in size and gently show the age-old story of life and loss. The simple shapes, outlined in black, and clear, pleasing colors will appeal to young children. Pair this with Mo Willem’s City Dog, Country Frog (2010) for a similar tale with a hopeful ending.

Kirkus Reviews - Bear and Bird

Old Bear and baby Bird become close friends.
After Bear returns unsuccessful fledgling Bird to his nest, they forge a friendship based on a strong commitment to helping each other find the best berries and avoid hunters. They are sad when Bird flies off for the winter, but Bear hibernates, and come spring, their friendship resumes. And so it goes for a few years, but then age begins to catch up with Bear. Sadly, Bird migrates south, and when he returns, he cannot find Bear. Instead, he finds Bear’s granddaughter, who explains to him that Bear has died. The granddaughter bear helps Bird through his grief by encouraging him to remember the good times that they shared. A new friendship emerges as Bird shows Bear’s granddaughter the way to the best berries. Skofield’s writing is tender and, with adult guidance, accessible to young readers who may be dealing with the death of an elderly loved one. His narrative features short sentences and frequent conversations between the animals. Thermes’ watercolor art, both full-page and spot, is bright and inviting, highlighting the contrast in size between the animals.
A good title to share when talking about death with children. (Picture book. 4 -7)


Author: James Skofield

James Skofield’s first book for children was published in 1981. He has published many more books since then and has also translated several books from the German, two of which have won the Mildred L. Batchelder award from the American Library Association. He has also worked as a lyricist and librettist and his operas and songs have been performed in North America, Europe, and Asia. He lives and works in Walpole, New Hampshire, near deeply forested woodland. Both bears and birds sometimes come by to visit.

Illustrator: Jennifer Thermes

Jennifer Thermes is both a children’s book author and illustrator. Her books include Helen Keller’s Best Friend Belle, There are No Moose on this Island!, and The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! Illustrations from Sled Ride were included in the “Let it Snow! Children’s Book Art” exhibition at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. She also illustrated the middle-grade novel Maggie & Oliver. Jennifer also creates fun, illustrated maps for book and magazine clients. She lives with her family in an old farmhouse in Connecticut, and can often be found daydreaming in her garden.

Narrator: Timothy Cap