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Review by Kristen Bentley

A bit about the author: Kristen  is a High school English teacher since 1994. Mother of two and professional writer with a Master’s degree in education. She loves to read, travel, watch baseball, and watch her children play sports, too.

The Bear and the Two Travelers

Who you are friends with says a lot about who you are. Sometimes children give more to their friends than the friends give back. Children need to recognize when a friend is not supportive and they need to be able to do something positive about it. “The Bear and the Two Travelers” teaches a lesson to children about how to support friends and to forgive them when they make mistakes.

Pair of Friends on a Journey

“The Bear and the Two Travelers” tells the story of two men, Ivan and Victor, who are traveling on foot and need a rest. While they are on their way to their next destination, Ivan gets tired and asks his friend if they could rest. Ivan quickly spots a shady apple tree. Then, the two men decide to rest and enjoy a few bites from a fresh, tasty apple.

Watch Out for the Bear

As the friends are getting ready to head back on the road, they notice a bear heading their way. Ivan scurried up a tree, but Victor decides to play dead and lay still in the road. The bear first tries to get to Ivan, but gives up and makes its way toward Victor in the road. The bear walks around Victor, sniffs him, and then does something quite unusual: he whispers in Victor’s ear. After whispering in his ear, the bear walks away and Ivan returns to the ground.

Shocking Ending: The Bear Speaks

Not only does the bear whisper into Victor’s ear, but he whispers some good advice: “Never travel with a friend who deserts you when there is danger.” Victor shares this insight with his friend who quickly apologizes. The two men continue on their way and Ivan promises to never desert his friend again. Rumor has it that the bear continues to share his wisdom about how challenges in life teach us who our real friends are with as many men as he can.

Learning about Childhood Friendships

Childhood is an important time for learning about friendship. As children move from preschool years into their elementary years, they begin to learn more about relationships. The elementary school years are when children begin to learn the unwritten rules of friendship, that it is a two-way relationship. “The Bear and the Two Travelers” enforces the idea that both friends need to help take care of each other. Fortunately, nothing happens to Victor. It was too bad that Ivan did not distract the bear or do something to help protect Victor when the bear was sniffing around him.

What Would You Do If You Were Ivan or Victor?

Since children love to put themselves in the place of characters in the story, “The Bear and the Two Travelers” provides an opportunity for children to discuss what they would do if they were Ivan and Victor. Even though most children will never have the problem of being chased by a bear, most will have to make decisions about what to do when confronted with challenges. In short, children will need to know how to ask for help and accept help when it is available.

Pause, Breath, and Think Before Panicking

Children also need to learn how to avoid panicking when they are in challenging situations. They can learn from Victor’s calmness as the bear sniffs him and comes in close to his face. Children are not always the best at remaining calm when life gets challenging. Children panic around bumblebees, when they need to have a shot at the doctor’s office, and when they need to have cavities filled. “The Bear and the Two Travelers” offers a good teaching opportunity for parents and teachers to teach their children how to pause, breath, and think. By learning these three simple steps, children can avoid panicking and creating more chaos. This book reinforces the fact that children do not just need to learn educational skills like math, reading, and reasoning, but they also need to learn how work through challenging emotional situations.

Learning to Apologize and Forgive

Children also benefit from the fact that Ivan apologized and Victor accepted it. Real friendships take time and they also take forgiveness. Children are not always willing to accept apologies or give apologies. “The Bear and the Two Travelers” shows that even grown men can apologize to each other and continue their friendship.