There was once a bear filled with so much love that whenever he came across another living thing, he would give it a hug. He hugged all his bewildered friends and startled acquaintances, but he mostly loved to hug trees. The trees seemed to like it better than the animals, to be fair. The illustrations in this simple story are amazing at portraying the feelings of surprise and shock on the faces of the random animals the bear aggressively hugs. Eventually he comes across a man with an axe, who seems to be a great appreciator of trees as well, since he spends a long while looking at all the trees before choosing a magnificent old tree to focus on. Spoiler Alert: the man does not want to hug the trees. The bear is angry and confused but his true nature prevails and he is able to “do what he does best” to encourage the man to run away. Then he hugs the tree. It is comforted.
This adorable book is part of a series called Life in The Wild, about a Moose, a Beaver and a Bear who are best friends. The other books are called The Busy Beaver and Making the Moose Out of Life. Yes, Puns! and Yes, So Canadian! The author is a co-owner of the Canadian outdoor apparel company Hatley. It’s clear he is wholesomely outdoorsy as well as, in my opinion, ridiculously Canadian. I used to sell this series of books to tourists like crazy when I worked in an airport bookstore. Obviously there is more to Canada than mooses and bears and beavers (find me a children’s book about poutine, eh!!) but I’m not mad about these books representing my country to small children whose grandparents visited us.
The books are funny and sweet and there are lessons but they are subtle- it’s about being yourself and appreciating your friends and enjoying your life by taking the time to really experience it. These are really good messages.