Helpful Mr. Bear — a blast from my childhood

On a recent visit north to see my family, Kara and I returned with a box of my childhood books given to us by my parents, who were clearing out their house in preparation for a big move south.

The books are all vintage children’s story books of the 1960s and 1970s. Some were originally mine, some were passed down to me from my brother. The reason Kara and I took the books is to make a gift of them to her younger sister, who just gave birth to identical twin boys.

While flipping through the yellowed tomes, I found myself smiling as I saw old favorites from childhood: The Monster at the End of This Book; One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish; Puff the Magic Dragon.

Then I saw that my wife had set aside one book that she said I needed to look at: Helpful Mr. Bear, written by Chizuko Kuratomi and illustrated by Kozo Kakimoto.

It’s the story of a big friendly bear who gets lonely on his mountain, and so he goes down to the bunny town to bring gifts to the bunnies. Hijinks ensue.

It would seem that the key elements of my adult psyche were imprinted far earlier than even I had ever realized.

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