Being that it's now October (and Friday the 13th!), the first book that popped into my mind for Favorite Book Friday is one about three little bears going on an adventurous journey into a pretty awesome and creepy tree. I bet a lot of you know the book just from reading that description. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the reference, I'm talking about The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain.
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I know a lot of people find fault with the Berenstain Bears series because many of the books make Papa Bear out to be a buffoon, and they don’t like the trend in popular culture at large to make father figures appear to all be idiots. I think the Berenstain's were just looking to add a comical character, and picked Papa way before this was all an issue. Unfortunately, for them, society later took a turn toward this characterization of father figures. But while I don’t think the Berenstain’s intention is to diminish the male figure in their stories, I understand the complaint and am also against the dad-is-a-dummy trend. However, this particular title focuses only on the little bears and the parental figures are barely included. So, no dad bashing in this one.
Our copy of this book was mine from childhood, and it is a prized possession. I read this thing countless times. The whole idea of venturing into a scary tree at night with your siblings or friends armed with the necessary equipment (a light, a stick, and a rope) delighted my little brain. The idea of it all sounded so adventurous and fun, and to an innocent little mind it’s all so suspenseful (in a fun way).
The look of admiration you see on Little Mama's face is real. Obviously, I asked them read this book for the picture, but Little Mama is truly thrilled that her big brother is reading to her. He'll do it from time to time on his own, but mostly it's up to me. Little Mama is that kid who loves and appreciates her siblings and is always showing and telling them. She's (generally) a very sweet girl.
Fast forward many moons and it turns out this was The Boy's favorite book as a toddler and preschooler. There was something so satisfying and full-circle about reading it to him. And read it to him, I did. Multiple times a day, every day. How could I say no to any adorable request to read “The Fooky Oh Tree”? We still call it that around here, and replace all instances of "spooky" with "fooky" when speaking. In fact, whenever I see "spooky" written, my brain automatically reads it as "fooky". I hope that little tradition continues forever.
It's a very easy-to-read, emergent reader type of book with sentence fragments that repeat often. I normally don’t care for repetitive picture books, as a matter of personal preference and my some oftentimes lack of patience. But this book has a special place in my heart.
I was only going to include one picture in this post, but I saw this one and had to fit it in I hope this comes through in the picture; notice how intently Tres is listening and looking at the book. Her brow is quite furrowed. She sat through the whole book this way. I'd love to know what she was thinking. My guess is, "Crazy bears. What are they doing?! Why would you go in that freaky tree?!" Babies think like that, right? That's the impression I have from" Look Who's Talking" (dating myself).
I’m not alone in my cherished memories of it.
I recently went to a friend’s house. In her entryway are several tall, wooden display cases. We’re talking museum quality here, folks. Inside, displayed with all her precious goods, I noticed a copy of the Spooky Old Tree! Of course, I became very excited about the whole thing. As it turns out, this was also her favorite book as a child and she still has her original copy for her son. Small world or great book? I’ll go with the latter.
If you have read this book as a child or have read it to your children, let me know in the comments! If you pick it up to read to them, let me know what they think!
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