Title: Bears on Chairs
Author: Shirley Parenteau
Illustrator: David Walker
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Word Count: Approx. 275
Christie Wright Wild’s Picture Books 14:14 starts today, in which participants read, study, and share one picture book a day for 14 days. Click the PB 14:14 logo above for more information.
Though I have reviewed many picture books, this is my first attempt at actually analyzing one. (Christie, feel free to grade me on this.) Bears on Chairs contains many of the Top Ten Story Elements for Picture Books, including rhyme, pattern, word play, and theme. But this post’s focus will be on Conflict.
The story starts off just fine. There are four chairs and four bears. All is well for about 1/3 of the story. “Four happy bears on four small chairs. Not a bear has to share.” The conflict begins when a fifth bear shows up. And guess what, he wants a chair too. “What a stare from Big Brown Bear. That big bear wants a chair.”
Now our four original bears have to decide what to do. Do they care? Will they share? Yes. Three attempts are made to accommodate Big Brown Bear so that he can sit down too. Sharing one chair doesn’t work. It’s not big enough for two bears. Sharing two chairs doesn’t work either. It’s not big enough for three bears. But, of course, the last try works and all five bears share one long chair, thus ending the conflict and the story.
I must mention that you can clearly see the theme in this story: sharing.
Bears on Chairs is deceptively simple. I think that’s what makes it such a good example of a picture book.