This week’s book pick is The Ring Bear by N.L. Sharp, a picture book for children that I’ve always considered one of my favorites and one that I love to point people to. The Nebraska Center for the Book honored it as one of the best books for children.
As a bookseller with a healthy children’s section, I know a lot of boys who are in the same position as Robert, the hero of our tale.
Robert loved bears. Real bears and stuffed bears and bears in books. Black bears and brown bears and polar bears. He even loved to eat bears. Graham cracker bears and cinnamon bears and chocolate bears. So he wasn’t surprised when his mom said he was going to be the ring bear in his Aunt Jane’s wedding.
When Robert’s told that he’ll be wearing a suit – “a black suit with a tail, a white shirt, and a red bow tie,” he’s pretty sure he has this whole wedding thing down. He’ll look like a panda bear!
The boy proceeds to rehearse, on his own, by growling at animals, eating “berries” and drinking “honey” so as to be the very best bear he could be for the ceremony.
When finally Robert learns the truth that there are no bears in weddings, a foot-stomping fit ensues. But when Aunt Jane impresses on him just how important he is to the ceremony, Robert relents, becoming what everyone said was the best ring bearer ever.
I just love the way little kids edge into the rational world. At a certain age, they pay very close attention to every word coming from an adult’s mouth, but their comprehension can be muddled by the residue of magical thinking we treasure in all our kids. I remember my niece almost cried when her grandmother told how a friend of my father’s had “got his goat.” Though Allison had never seen or heard of her grandfather’s goat, she circulated on the edge of the adult conversation with a sad look on her face. Finally, she asked, “Did he give it back?” My puzzled mother said “Give what back, honey?,” to which Allison replied “His goat!”
This would be a wonderful book if you need to prepare your child for a wedding or any kind of formal ceremony. And it’s certain that your child will never, ever be fooled about the concept of being a ring bearer.
The Ring Bear
by N.L. Sharp, illustrated by Michael T. Hassler, Jr.
Dageforde/Prairieland Press (HC) $17.99