Cover of Baby Bear's Chairs by Jane Yolen

Baby Bear’s Chairs

My newest editor hero is Liz Van Doren at Harcourt. She called me about two and a half years ago and said that she wanted to talk to me about doing a series of books that had the same kind of impact as my Scholastic HOW DO DINOSAURS books. In other words, a brandable book series, with repeating characters. Now other editors had suggested this to me, too, but none with Liz’s listening power.

“Harcourt already has that from me,” I said, citing PIGGINS and the THREE BEARS RHYME BOOK and its following volumes. “Of course Jane Dyer doesn’t want to do any more PIGGINS and those books work because of her drawings,” I added. “But what about expanding one or more of the Baby Bear poems?” She said she would look into those immediately.

And she did! (Which is why she is an Editor Hero.) She called me back within two weeks with some suggestions of poems to think about. With her energy behind me, I started to work. Two of the poems–“Baby Bear’s Chairs” and “Read to Me”(now called BABY BEAR’S BOOKS) worked. The third, about Baby Bear out in the rain, ended up too negative and she rejected it. But Liz said that while both of the other mss. still needed a good deal of work, she’d give me contracts for the first two. Doncha love her?

I eventually wrote a third book which does NOT come from one of the BB poems–BABY BEAR’S WISHES and Liz bought that, too. Illustrator Melissa Sweet was Liz’s inspired idea. And we were off to the races.

The first book out is BABY BEAR’S CHAIRS. Melissa Sweet outdid herself and in a letter to me, said as much. The book has Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Baby Bear and his older brother. It takes Baby Bear through his day and all the chairs he has–including a high chair, a stuffed chair, Papa’s lap. Harcourt is very much behind this book.


  • Best Book pick for the holidays from the Tribune Media Service, which includes 30 newspapers, among them the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times.
  • Golden Kite Award for Illustration given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

What reviewers have said:

  • “A wee bruin extols, in sly Goldilocks fashion, the virtues of the various sized chairs in his house. . . .While Yolen’s jaunty tale taps into the universal desire of all tots to grow up quickly, she concludes on a winsome note, gently encouraging little ones to savor being just their size. . . Yolen’s verses swing along in an easy, playful rhythm that is perfectly suited for read-aloud sessions with small or large groups. Sweet’s mixed-media-and-watercolor collages continue the whimsical theme of the tale. Her renderings of the bear family home, cluttered with toys and homemade drawings taped to the walls, will be readily recognizable to young readers. A cozy and comforting send-off to slumber.”–Kirkus
  • “Yolen’s empathetic rhyming text infuses the classic preschooler’s complaint with touching eloquence; as always she connects with young readers without pandering to them. Sweet makes an ideal visual partner. Her mixed-media illustrations exude a sunny open-heartedness; the slightly naif stype opts for emotional authenticity over realism, but Sweet also includes plenty of domestic details to create a bear household that is both a loving one and also a great setting for a play date.”–Publisher’s Weekly
  • “Lap-sitters will delight in the text’s rhythms and in recognizing their wee, tumble-and mess-prone selves in Sweet’s glorious mixed-media art.”– Horn Book Guide
  • “A sweet and cozy bedtime story with adorable illustrations parents can share with their own little bears.”-Kidsbookshelf

Available in hardcover.