Little Bear loves his little boat. He floats all around Huckleberry Lake in it, fishing from it, dreaming in it – and he's happy.
What Little Bear doesn't realize is that one day his little boat is going to be too small for him. And when that day comes, and Little Bear (now Big Bear) capsizes and ends up in the pond, his mother explains things to him: “It is a little bear's destiny to grow and grow till he is a BIG BEAR,” she says. “It is a little boat's destiny to stay the same size.”
Big Bear is sad, thinking about his little boat without a bear to sit in it, or fish from it, or dream in it. “It is a little boat's destiny,” he decides, “to keep sailing on a blue, blue lake.” So Big Bear ponders his dilemma, comes to a decision, and sets out to make matters right.
What makes Big Bear so endearing is that he doesn't sit down and whine about being unable to fit into his boat – he worries, instead, about his boat not having someone to love it the way he feels it deserves to be loved. He solves his problem through persistence and ingenuity, and finds a way to make himself happy without his little boat, too.
Nancy Carpenter’s illustrations, done in pen and ink with digital media, maintain a sharp focus on Bear and the story. The simple drawings lend the book an old-fashioned atmosphere that is an excellent accompaniment for the simple text. Together they create a sensitive, engaging story about growing up, letting go of beloved things and discovering new and exciting ones – a story that preschoolers (and their parents!) will be sure to identify with.
Awards: Christopher Award, 2004
Little Bear’s Little Boat by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Clarion Books, 2003)