THE BEAR IN MY FAMILY by Maya Tatsukawa

I like checking out ALA’s Geisel Award winners, given to authors and illustrators of “the most distinguished” books for beginning readers. I’m not exactly sure what the judging criteria are, but—since they’re geared to the newest readers—I figure the books are likely to have engaging stories told in simple language.

That’s certainly true of The Bear in my Family by Maya Tatsukawa (Penguin Random House), one of this year’s four Geisel Honor books.

On the first page, a young boy says: I live with a bear.

Intriguing, right?

In the following spreads, we learn what the bear looks like . . . 

What the bear sounds like . . .

And a few other particulars:

But when the boy complains to his mom about the bear, she doesn’t take him seriously. She says: Don’t be silly. Why don’t you go to the park?

Which leaves us wondering: Is this bear real? Or is it some sort of unpleasant imaginary friend?

The boy goes off to the park, still grumbling about the bear. When three bullies show up and order him off the swing, he starts thinking a big, loud bear might be useful right about now. And guess who shows up to save the day?

In the next several spreads, the boy changes his tune. Turns out the bear has some good features too.

And then, on the last spread, the bear’s identity is revealed. This loud, strong, messy, annoying, protective, playful and loving character is (have you guessed?) . . . the boy’s big sister. 

Anyone who has a sibling—or has observed siblings—will relate to this story. Simple language, yes—plus an engaging story with a sweet and funny twist. 

You can check out all the Geisel Award winners over here.

Thanks for reading!


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. The bear lounging on the couch with a bag of chips made me laugh!

    Sibling relationships are usually a story goldmine for better or worse, right?

    Thanks Linda!

  2. Loved this story. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Aww, I can “bear-ly wait to read this! Congrats!

  4. Love this! I had a bear of a little sister. 🙂

  5. This looks wonderful – both as a book to read aloud and for those learning to read on their own.

  6. This looks fun. It’s the only Geisel honor book I haven’t seen yet. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jilanne F Hoffmann

    This makes me long for an older sibling who actually looked out for me. Love it!

  8. Kim Pfennigwerth

    I love this book! So clever!

  9. Aw, I had a sweet big bear of my own. I might have to get this for her. Thank you Linda.

  10. This looks delightful! I know my little ones will enjoy it.

  11. Great way to present a family “bear.”

  12. Susan Lee Roberts


  13. Sounds like a great twist ending!

  14. Oh this is so sweet! I love the twist. Thank you for this lovely post, Linda.

  15. This book is really cute! I’d like this bear in my family.

  16. What a great book for beginning readers!

  17. This is just so clever and great. Love it!

  18. Angie Quantrell

    Very cute! Another fun bear book!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *