Cover of Baby Bear's Big Dreams by Jane Yolen

Baby Bear’s Big Dreams

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Harcourt 2007
ISBN 0152052917

This third book about Baby Bear centers on his wishes for what he will get to be when he grows up. It was first called BABY BEAR GETS BIG and no one at the publishing company liked that. We went through about a dozen permutations until settling on the title. I actually think the title was my editor’s. Liz Van Doren-a great editor, a great friend. And then she was gone-let go-before the book came out. Something about restructuring the department. That says more about the state of publishing than it does about me, the illustrator, or the editor.

Baby Bear knows that big bears get to have all the fun. They get to stay up late, live in toy stores, go exploring by themselves, and eat dessert . . . all day long! Baby Bear plans to do each of those things–and more–when he grows up. But at the end of the day, even the biggest bears still get to come home to tell of their grown-up adventures and get tucked into bed.

This third Baby Bear collaboration between Melissa Sweet and me is, in some ways, the sweetest of all. It’s a tribute to imagination and how little children wish they could make all the rules. Remember, “It’s not fair!” Well Baby Bear doesn’t exactly say that. Instead he stands the rules on their collective heads.

I love these three little books, their gentle coziness that shows in full bloom the self-importance of a 2-3 year old (It’s all about me!) And of course, the wonderful illustrations. Melissa Sweet is a genius. She continues to surprise and delight. (And she is as delicious in person as her art!)

What reviewers have said:

  • “When I grow up in about a year” begins this tale of a cub’s plans for adulthood. His ambitious ideas include having three friends move in with him so they can stay up late and play nonstop because he thinks that’s one of the perks of being a big bear. Living in a toy store, building a tree house, camping, and exploring are also a part of his plans for the future. His earnest ideas always include friends or family with whom he can share his toys, his honey, and his explorations. The ultimate plan is to return home so that his parents can tuck him into bed and give him kisses, “one and two…/for that’s what BIG bears always do.” This third Baby Bear book by this duo is illustrated in the same bright, sunny hues as the others. The large mixed-media and collage pictures and the rhyming couplets make this title a treat for storytime or for sharing one-on-one.” – School Library Journal
  • “Written in first person from his point of view, the simple text puts forth Baby Bear’s dreams of becoming a big bear. Full of action, and illustrated with fresh colors and pleasing details, the artwork creates Baby Bear’s world as an appealing, even cozy place that children will want to explore visually while listening to the rhythmic, rhyming verse. Written with a good sense of the way young children think and express themselves, the text has a childlike air and reads aloud well. A fine new picture book for Baby Bear fans.”– Booklist
  • “Baby Bear is back and this time sharing his big dreams. What I really like about this author and illustrator is the way they convey the essence of childhood and, in this book, it’s all about the endless, limitless dreams that children have about what the will do when they are grown.”
  • “We all know Jane, don’t we? I can dispense with the formal introduction about her 250 books and iconic status in kidlit circles? Good. All you really need to know is whether installment #983 in the Baby Bear series is any good. Of course. She could probably write this stuff in her sleep. I remember reading on her blog that she still gets rejection letters. I don’t believe it either, but I swear I’m not making it up. This Baby Bear is well worth the cover price for rhymes that gleefully glide past and a fanciful premise. Okay, the idea of a little kid dreaming of what he’ll get to do as a big kid has been done to death, but Yolen has a way of making it worth one more try: . . .with Baby Bear still needing a good-night tuck even when he’s all grown up. It’s written from inside a kid’s head, with all the contradictions and exaggerations playfully glossed over with a big smooch.Sweet’s watercolors are, well, sweet, and get the job done without too much fuss.”–Book Buds
  • “Yolen captures the universal wish of young children to be older and more grown-up without giving up the protective care and admiring love of their parents. This sweet but not saccharine story is told in first-person narrative by a preschool-aged bear dressed in plaid shorts or hiking clothes. He announces all the things he plans to do when he grows up “in a year or two,” such as inviting his friends to move in, staying up late and leaving his toys strewn all over the house. In short, rhyming text, the little bear ponders living in a toy store or a tree house and camping with just his big brother for company. The oversized format highlights Sweet’s engaging paintings done in mixed-media and collage, with the text set against backgrounds of lemon and lime. She fills her illustrations with clever details, such as a stuffed bee toy carried by the little bear (instead of a teddy bear), and her exuberant style is well-matched to the young bear’s playful antics and confident personality.”-Kirkus
  • “(This book) features lively rhymes by Jane Yolen. . . .Even though the simple rhyming verse and concepts appeal to a young child, the concept of growing up and still wanting to make parents proud will touch every parent’s heart. The fact that most children look forward to being grown up, and yet realize that there is something wonderful about staying a child is illustrated in the way that that Baby Bear describes “when I grow up”: first it’s about a year, then a year or two, a year or three, a year or four, or a year or five, and then when he returns home to his parents when he’s ALL grown, they will still tuck him into his special bed. This book will appeal to parents as well as children aged two to six..”-Five Minutes for Mom
  • “Here’s a brand new (and the third) Baby Bear collaboration between the seven-kinds-of-prolific Jane Yolen and illustrator Melissa Sweet. And it couldn’t be more of a Child Magnet, because what child hasn’t dreamt of what he will do when older? Oh my, all the nights he’ll have his friends over – wait! How about this? They can even move in! – and “play all day/ and stay up late,/ and never go to bed/ by eight.” They’ll leave the toys out (mwahahahahahaha); in fact, they’ll live in a shop filled with toys, thanks very much . . . You get the picture. The rhyming text is a testament to a child’s vivid imagination and a child’s desire to make all the rules themselves already. Sweet’s collage mixed-media illustrations are busy and detailed, as a child’s mind is, and take up every inch of every spread with bright colors and lots of action and a great deal of warmth, particularly when Baby Bear, as the grown-up son, returns home, getting bear hugs from Mama and Papa who . . .

    tuck me in
    my special bed,
    with giant pillows
    for my head,
    and give me kisses,
    one and two . . .
    for that’s what
    BIG bears always do.

  • Yup, he might want to be big and explore the world, as all children are wont to do, but he’s gotta have that Mama and Papa love in the end. What child doesn’t want to – and need to – come home to that, even as a grown-up? Does it seem a bit too awwwwwwwwww!? Well, Big Bear is painfully adorable, but this is Jane Yolen we’re talkin’ here, who never lets things get too schmaltzy. A very fun, rather child-empowering title. Heartily recommended.”-Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
  • “Ms. Yolen hits the mark every time – appears she has a special connection to kids’ minds and preferences. Name a child who hasn’t liked Baby Bear. Here’s his latest story, with the expected quality of page and picture. As usual, the text moves nicely along, not allowing anyone to get bored. These, you can read over again without feeling like you’re head is going to melt. Baby Bear is growing up, in his own mind, and has been encouraged, as all children should be, to dream the best and biggest dreams he can. There’s an inspiring lesson here for young readers, but they won’t be aware they’re being fed brain food. They’ll just like the journey.” -Suite