Perfect Picture Book Fridays: Gift-Bear for the King


Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources. 

Self-esteem has six basic components.  Today’s picture book selection addresses all of them: Mastering tasks and skills, valuing one’s own strengths and qualities, feeling loved and appreciated, learning to express one’s feelings, acknowledging and coping with fears and accepting and loving oneself.    I know that parents and teachers will enjoy the simple eco-friendly craft project at the end of my review. 

The main character of the story loves singing and Wednesday’s guest post was from Daria, a talented musician who travels around the globe, sharing her passion for music with young children.  I hope everyone will check out her post and visit her amazing websites!  She provided us with several great musical instrument-making crafts and is giving away a wonderful poster that celebrates music around the world.



A Gift-Bear for the King

Written by Carl Memling

Illustrated by Lillian Hoban

Publishers: E.P. Dutton & Co (1966)

Ages: 2 – 8


Mastering tasks and skills, dealing with disappointment, overcoming adversity, helping others, friendship


“There was once an old man and an old woman who lived in a hut in the forest.  They were very poor, but they had a little bear cub for a friend.”


A very talented bear-cub is sent as a birthday gift for the king by a loving old couple.  As the bear-cub travels to reach the king, he meets and helps many people.  When he finally arrives at the palace, the king’s birthday is long over and the guards lock him up in the dungeon because he is so late.  While in his prison cell, the bear-cub sings a sad and beautiful song about his travels.  Will the bear-cub spend the rest of his days in the dungeon?  Does the king ever find out about his special present?  What will happen to the old couple?

Why do I like this book

The foundations of our self-esteem are laid in the first five years of life…I love picture books that celebrate any of the six components that help a child develop a positive self-image…and this book addresses all six!  Gift-Bear for the King was my oldest son’s favorite story…we both knew it by heart by the time he was four.  Gift-Bear could sing, stand on his front paws and wash the dishes…he was always ready to help those in need.  Young children will be singing along with the refrain before you turn the last page. 

The illustrations, in Lillian Hoban’s inimitable style, are charming.

Related Activities:

There is a lovely crown craft activity here

There are quite a few crowns and other hat-making craft activities here.

There are excellent step-by-step crown-making instructions with photos here.


The crown you help your child make can be as simple or as fancy as you like.  The picture is from a kit you can buy from Oriental Trading Company.  I included it to show you how ornate you can make the crown…but your child will enjoy wearing a simple one also.

 You will need: Construction paper, buttons or sequins (optional) crayons or markers, glue, scissors.

1.      Cut strips of construction paper and measure to fit your child’s head.  Piece together with glue if necessary.

2.      Cut a zig-zag along the top edge.  You can make it fancy like the one above or just simple.

3.      Let your child decorate with crayons and/or markers.

4.      If you wish, add “jewels” cut from different colored construction paper…or buttons…or sequins.  Glue into place and let dry.

5.      Fit the decorated crown strip to your child’s head and glue the two ends together.

6.      Important tip: Most of you are too young to remember one of the first “reality” shows, Queen for a Day, where an ordinary woman was featured and given prizes and made to feel very special.  Perhaps your child can be Queen or King for a Day in your home…helping choose the dinner menu, picking the family game that will be played.  Feeling loved, valued and appreciated is such an important element in building self-esteem…children who are confident are less likely to be victims of bullying.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

48 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Fridays: Gift-Bear for the King

  1. The King and Queen for a day crowns are precious! And fun to make. This story sounds utterly delightful! The dungeon sounds dreadful. I sure hope he is freed. I love books that our kids memorize because we read them so much. Thanks for adding it to the list!


    • I hope “picture books” was an acceptable “favorite things”…they are definitely one of mine. 🙂
      I’m happy you liked this book review and craft! If you want to get a copy of Gift Bear for the King, try the library or used bookstores…or or Amazon. 🙂 This book is just one of the 100 I recommend in my parenting/activity book. Do you know about the 2012 PPP Reading Challenge and prize every month? If a parent or teacher posts a comment on my blog about what books they are reading with their children, they might win a new picture book…one lucky winner every month!!!! You can just add the comment on any March post…or click on the Positive Parental Participation logo on the right sidebar and it will bring you to the “official” comment page for March. 🙂 I’d love it if you would spread the word to the moms you know…the more, the merrier!


  2. My book is on the same subject today, how nice! I must read go back and read that interview and love your craft ideas. I think I’ll see if my kids want to be King and Queen for the day. I bet they do 🙂


    • Thank you, Catherine…I loved your selection…”It’s Me” and will try to get a copy to use in my school programs! Glad you liked “A Gift Bear for the King”.
      Hope you enjoy the guest post with Daria…what fantastic musical instrument crafts she provided. 🙂
      And yes, kids love to be queen and king for a day!!!


    • Thank you, Erik! I don’t know how old your younger sister is…maybe you can help her make a crown! It’s a really lovely story…I almost wish someone would give me a gift bear for a present…he washes dishes and sings lovely songs. 🙂


    • Glad you liked it, Clar! Yes, self-esteem is so important in our lives…if we have a positive self-image, we usually accept new challenges eagerly. Kids with low self-esteem find life much more difficult…like climbing a steep hill that is full of scree 😦


    • You are so welcome, Kirsten! I’m so passionate about trying to help kids build true self-esteem…I almost can’t help myself from taking EVERY opportunity to connect building self-esteem to whatever I am doing. 🙂
      I’m sure my six components aren’t the only elements that contribute to a positive self-image…but they are the ones I addressed in my book and I think that if a child masters tasks and skills, feels appreciated and valued, etc…that child will have high self-esteem!


  3. I love this craft idea! You know, you do have a knack on finding and describing books really well. I just wish that many of these books are available in our local… but no. Then again, I can still try my luck on amazon and check if they ship here 🙂

    Spanish Pinay


    • Thank you for your kind words, SP 🙂
      I guess we are spoiled here in the US, with Amazon and and ebay…and very reasonable shipping if you are in the continental US. I know it is quite expensive to ship outside the continental US…I’ve shipped my book to Canada and India…and will be sending a copy to Singapore next week. Is there any European outlet like Amazon where the shipping would be more reasonable for you?


  4. Lillian Hoban’s illustrations really take me back to my childhood. Bread and Jam for Frances was my absolute favorite growing up. I haven’t seen this one before but would love to check it out. Thanks, Vivian!


    • Oh yes, Amy! Bread and Jam for Frances…I didn’t include it in my recommended hundred picture books in Show Me How because I intend to do a couple of “sequels” and one of them will focus on building relationships…sibling rivalry, friendship, bullying/teasing…so I was saving that gem. 🙂 But I love that story!!!!
      Gift Bear is from 1966…the year before I got married and started teaching kindergarten…you can’t know how sorry I am that I didn’t pursue the picture book writing path also. I dabbled and wrote…and most got lost along the way…but maybe I’ll write better stuff now. 🙂


  5. You really are creative with your crafts — you must have grown up crafting. I love the activity with this book. Such a beautiful book and I want to know what happens. A singing, loving bear must capture some hearts. Love this! Thanks for sharing.


    • Thank you, Pat! I do love crafting…I can remember sitting at the kitchen table with my mom, working on a diorama made from a shoe box. My mom had been a nursery school teacher before she got married and she was a “stay at home mom” and loved to do crafty stuff with me and my sister.
      Hope you get a copy to read…and yes, he did make so many friends along the way. 🙂


    • Thank you, Loni! Kids do love to feel special…and it is so important for us to encourage that feeling in them…not an “arrogant conceited I’m better than everyone else” kind of special…but a “I’m a worthwhile individual who deserves love and respect” kind of special. 🙂
      Glad you liked the book. 🙂


  6. This does look like a cute book. It’s funny too, because we’ve been making crowns around here lately, right and left. Evidently, there are a few little princes in the neighborhood. 😉


  7. Hi Vivian, I do enjoy books with a musical theme – with unforgettable characters that children can grow old with. Two years back, we had a Picture Books that Sing theme over at GatheringBooks and we had a great deal of fun finding books based on songs: Chelsea Morning by Joni Mitchell and Forever Young by Bob Dylan among a few. I know that this one is a tad different but it has likewise caught my eye. Will check out our community libraries for a copy of this one.


    • So happy you stopped by, Myra!
      Glad you liked the selection. 🙂
      A children’s book by Bob Dylan? That I MUST get my hands on…he is one of my most favorite musicians…the words of his songs are timely and timeless. 🙂
      I’m going to go over to GatheringBooks and make sure I am following your blog. 🙂


    • That is great, Nate! So happy you stopped by and commented! I’m following your blog now…excited to hear more about your amazing adventure! I hope you will come back again…every Friday, I review a picture book and provide a craft and other resources and link up with 2 dozen or more picture book writers and illustrators who do the same. What a great resource for your family. 🙂


  8. This book is too cute not to be shared to the little ones. I might have to borrow this book one of these days and read it to my six-year-old niece. The art project you posted looks like a treat! I’m sure she’ll enjoy these activities. 🙂


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