In Praise of Bonny Becker

Well, here we are—shockingly—in December. ‘Tis the season to be harried, so for everyone’s benefit (including my own), this post will be short and sweet.

In fact, I could probably boil it down to one sentence:

Read Bonny Becker’s Bear & Mouse books.

Which one? Any will do. But, given the season, you might try A Christmas for Bear (Candlewick, 2017), which arrived just in time for the holidays:

Or The Sniffles for Bear, also appropriate for this time of year:

A few of us here have suggested typing the text of well-done picture books to learn from them. I do this regularly with books I love—including several of Bonny’s Bear & Mouse stories. Here are a few things I admire about these books:

  • The narrator’s voice (warm, bemused, perhaps with a British accent)
  • The musical cadence of Bonny’s sentences
  • The characters—crotchety Bear and effervescent Mouse—each with his own distinct and flawed-yet-lovable personality
  • The warm and genuine friendship between the two
  • The humor

And then there are Kady MacDonald Denton’s charming illustrations, which perfectly animate these characters, add humor, and place them in irresistible settings that invite you to pull up a soft and well-upholstered chair . . .

Or pull on your snow boots and join in the fun.

For the record, Bonny Becker also wrote one of our family’s favorite holiday books, The Christmas Crocodile, illustrated by David Small. It has little to do with Christmas (aside from all the presents the crocodile eats), but plenty to do with wacky characters, a fabulous voice, loads of slapstick humor, wonderful illustrations, and a classic “Ha!” ending. (The book went out of print, but was reissued last year by Amazon’s Two Lions imprint as a “Nancy Pearl Book Crush Rediscovery,” a program that’s been discontinued, sadly).

So happy holidays, all, and happy reading. See you next year!


P.S. The winner of Ann Whitford Paul’s If Animal’s Said I Love You from my last post is David McMullin. Congratulations, David!


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Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 45 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a how-to guide for picture book writers. Her books have been included on the ‘best of the year’ lists of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, the American Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, and The New York Public Library, among others, and have been translated into many languages.


  1. Thanks for sharing! I’ve never heard of this author or her books.

  2. I’ve been loving Bonny Becker’s bear and mouse stories for years! And I agree – Kady MacDonald Denton’s illustrations are spot on!

  3. I just added some of her books to my library list. I look forward to seeing them. And I’m so happy to have won Ann’s wonderful book!

  4. I’m so glad you featured this one. A couple of weeks ago, I picked A Christmas for Bear as my favorite new 2017 holiday book for a PB party I’m going to tomorrow. (We have to bring one favorite classic holiday title and a favorite pick from 2017.) At the same time, I read the reissue of the very fun The Christmas Crocodile.

    Christmas for Bear–the writing and the illustrations–is such a perfectly orchestrated mix of subtlety, surprise, predictability, quirkiness, charm, character, and love all mixed into a lyrical Christmas confection and baked to perfection. And it’s a fun read-aloud.

  5. Oh, I do love Bear and Mouse! Lovely books! Thanks for reminding me. 🙂

  6. Hooray for Bear and Mouse and Bonny! Can’t wait to read A Christmas for Bear. 🙂

  7. Thanks for introducing me to Bonny’s books, Linda–I hadn’t heard of them, and look forward to checking them out! Happy Holidays!! 🙂

  8. I love, love, LOVE everything about these books! From Bonny’s brilliant word choice, to Kady’s whimsical illustrations. I didn’t know about The Christmas Crocodile and am excited to look it up. Thanks, Linda!

  9. I didn’t know about A Christmas for Bear, I’ll track that one down pronto. The Bear and Mouse books are such a perfect pairing of text and illustration, what a cozy world!

  10. Thank you, Linda, for reminding me of how much I love these books. It’s time to reread and type the texts. Mentor books, for sure! Wishing you a joyous holiday season.

  11. I haven’t read the new Bear and Mouse book yet, but I hope to pick some up for Christmas gifts this week. We were so lucky to have Bonnie come to Spokane a couple of years ago for a PB intensive. She’s such a great teacher! Thanks, Linda, Happy Holidays!

    • Hi, Rachel! What a wonderful intensive that must have been! And, yes, the newest Bear & Mouse would make an excellent gift–just as charming and funny as the others. Happy holidays to you, too!

  12. Ahh . . . these books look delightful!

  13. Thank you, Linda, for introducing me to Bonny’s books! They look scrumptious!

  14. They are, they are! Check them out, Mary!

  15. Not only do I love Bear and Mouse, I love Nancy Pearl! Her action figure is on my bookcase. It’s so awesome that a librarian has an action figure! I even got her to sign it at a conference. Going to look up that discontinued program now…

    • I just saw the action figure recently, Mary. It’s fabulous! And I got to meet Nancy too when she spoke at the Chapel Hill Library last month. Good idea to look up other books in the program. I need to do that as well!

  16. I find it impossible to read any of the books in this series without falling into very distinct accents for Bear and Mouse. So fun!. Bonny’s language is just delicious in each book..

  17. I remember The Christmas Crocodile. I’m sorry to hear it’s out of print.
    Her new books look great. I’ll check them out.

  18. Bonny is a treasure. And a great teacher. If you ever have a chance to take a workshop with her, do it.

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