Monday, 27 February 2012

The Stubborn Bear

I've just discovered this wonderful children’s book written by Robert Bigelow and illustrated by Wallace Tripp. Published by Little Brown & company in 1970.

Winter is coming. The fish have left but still the stubborn bear refuses to leave the beach.

The bear fishes from the same spot on the same beach every day, and he is determined to go on doing so. But now there are no more fish. The bear waits and waits, but no fish swim past.

His friends try to persuade him to eat something else. His mother begs him to eat before the winter comes. But the bear is stubborn. All the other bears go into hibernation, but the stubborn bear sits on.

As the weather gets colder, the bear gets thinner and thinner.

At last the stubborn bear spots a fin in the water. His mouth waters, his ego swells and so does the size of the fish coming towards him.

I won’t spoil it by giving away the ending but trust me, it's not what you expect – or maybe it is!

Have you read the stubborn bear or anything else by Robert Bigelow? How do you think the story ends??

If you want to find out what happens to the bear, please read the comment section below.  If you don’t like sad endings, please don’t read the comments!


  1. I haven't read this, Barbara, or any others by Robert Bigelow. But a scrawny bear is a sad sight ... I uttered an 'Oh, no' when I saw that picture. I don't think the bear will die, but I can't figure out how it'd change its mind and not be quite so obstinate.

  2. barbaraannefisher27 February 2012 at 11:59

    It is horrible to watch the bear shrinking. Some parts are heartbreaking, this, for instance - only his mother, who loved him very much, stayed behind trying to help him. The water was now icy, and the wind moaned with cold. His mother was very worried. “Please come with me,” she said in a trembling voice. “There is still time to find enough food.” But the silly bear just covered his ears and wouldn’t listen. It’s beautifully written and illustrated but very, very sad.

  3. Storybookloveaffair27 February 2012 at 12:34

    What a cute story! I haven't read this one...

  4. barbaraannefisher27 February 2012 at 13:05

    I agree; it is cute but also very sad.

  5. I am back from vacation catching up...poor bear. I hope it turns out alright for him. I don't think I have read anything by this author. I have several animal/circus theme books that have unusual endings.

  6. I think I'm married to the stubborn bear!

  7. This book sounds like a good lesson on why we shouldn't be too stubborn! I feel so sad for the bear. I am afraid the fish coming near him may actually be a shark or an orca. I hope it is food he can eat. I was also thinking of a submarine- but I think the bear would be able to recognize something that wasn't a fish... Fascinating!

  8. barbaraannefisher28 February 2012 at 16:00

    I’ve just been looking at your holiday ‘photos (on your blog) – it looks like you had a great time.
    I'm sorry to say the poor bear doesn’t have a happy ending.

  9. barbaraannefisher28 February 2012 at 16:03

    We must be married to the same man!

  10. barbaraannefisher28 February 2012 at 16:09

    Hi Jess, one of your guesses is the right one! Suffice to say the ending made me cry.

  11. Oh no! The illustrations are marvellous but I don't think I would like to see the end. When you said the size of the fish swells that comes towards him all I can imagine is this big jaw opening up to swallow him whole. I don't feel quite as sorry for the bear as for his poor devoted mother though! (Not sure I would have given this to my child to read when he was young- bit of a nightmare inducer).

  12. And we learn a lesson about stubbornness. What a good idea. Wouldn't want to be around that bear when he's that hungry.

  13. barbaraannefisher29 February 2012 at 12:15

    Hello Sharon, your guess at the ending is correct. I was going to do a follow up post showing what happened to the bear, but I think it would upset everyone, so I’ve changed my mind! I found Black Beauty and the incredible journey really sad when I was a little girl, and this book fits into the same category. It doesn’t take away from the beauty of the illustrations or the quality of the writing, but I wish the bear had just gone home with his mum! I really think this book is for a collector, not for a child.

  14. barbaraannefisher29 February 2012 at 12:26

    This poor bear really learns a lesson about stubbornness, but it’s too late for him.

  15. Poor bear! A lesson learnt, but a harsh one. Don't think I could read this one.

  16. Oh, how in the world did I ever miss this book? (children's literature enthusiast that I am.) The pictures are delightful. I don't want to think what happens to the poor silly bear.

  17. barbaraannefisher1 March 2012 at 07:25

    Hi, Nikki-ann I kept reading because I was so certain it would be a happy ending, but it was not to be. Well, I suppose it was for the fish, but not for the bear.

  18. barbaraannefisher1 March 2012 at 07:34

    Hello Gayle, I had the same reaction as you! I’ve been collecting, buying and selling children’s books for years and also managed to miss it - until now. Do you have a blog? If so, please leave a link, so I can call in.


I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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