Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Big Bear's Big Boat by Eve Bunting

Big Bear's Big Boat by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

Rating: 5 stars

Sometimes, books end up in our giant library bag just for me.

I know, I know--they are picture books and they're found in the CHILDREN'S section, and they are meant for younger eyes and younger hearts than mine. But I'm a firm believer that children's books (from picture books to young adult novels) are good at any age, so I read them, unashamed, even when my kids aren't around.

So this book. Big Bear's Big Boat.

Big Bear's too big for his small boat. Kindly, he gives it to Little Bear because it's just Little Bear's size. Now, he sets off to build up another boat for himself. "I want it to be just like my little boat, but bigger," he tells his mom.

So he saws and he hammers and he measures and he builds until he's got his new big boat. Just like the old boat, but bigger. He smiles with satisfaction as he sits in his newly-finished boat.

This his friends get a look at it.

"It needs a big mast!" suggests Beaver. "It needs a top deck!" says Otter. "It needs a cabin!" screeches Blue Heron. Big Bear considers these suggestions and then adds a big mast, a top deck, and a cabin.

The he steps back, looks at his big boat. "What an ugly boat I've made. The mast leans over, the deck slants, and the cabin is higgledy-piggedly."

He goes to his friends. He doesn't want to hurt their feelings. He thanks them for their help but says he realizes he doesn't like the boat when it has all of their suggestions on it. "This boat is not my dream. A bear should never let go of his own dream." His friends nod in agreement, support his (very right in my own opinion) opinion, and watch as Big Bear takes down the mast that leans over, the higgedly-piggedly cabin, and the slanted deck.
And he was happy.

He pushes the boat into Blueberry Lake and rows it all around, fishes from it, relaxes in it, and watches the night sky from it.

And he is happy.

Right now, I'm trying so, so very hard to become a children's book author. I am putting my manuscripts out there in the big, opinion-filled world and people who supposedly know a whole lot more than me are telling me what they think of them. It's humbling for sure, though it's what I expected, and after each round of feedback I wonder: Is this my vision? Do I agree with their feedback? I need to learn from Big Bear, who has a big skill in his back fur-pocket: He can say no, thank you, that's not my dream. And then, he follows his own voice or heart or vision.

What a great lesson--for me, for my kids, for you, for all of us.

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