Bear and the Whisper of the Wind

Image of Bear and the Whisper of the Wind
Release Date: 
March 1, 2022
Princeton Architectural Press (Children's Books)
Reviewed by: 

Children’s books come in all flavors: sweet, funny, quirky, boring, and gems only an adult would love. Bear and the Whisper of the Wind falls into that last category. This isn’t to say that kids won’t get something out of the book, but more to say that this is a book that some adult will read to a group of kids and ask, “What is your inner voice telling you to do?” Most five year olds would answer along the lines of food cravings and bodily functions, not something so esoteric as “I need to move on, but I don’t know why,” which is the storyline here. Do five year olds really ever think about giving in to the urge to move on? Do ten year olds? For that matter, how many adults are in tune to their inner voices that would take them far, far away . . . only to return to essentially the same place?

Bear is happy where he is. He lives in a nice house, loves his friends, sits in a favorite chair, and enjoys eating strawberry pie. All is good. But one day, the wind whispers to Bear, and he senses that it’s time to go. He doesn’t know why or where he should go, just that he should answer to this restless calling. He follows, trusting his instincts that everything will turn out okay. His journey takes him away from this comfortable place, oddly enough to a place very similar—a lovely little house, a new friend, and more strawberry pie. He even wonders at a point, “[M]aybe I shouldn’t have left MY home. What if I have made a terrible mistake?” He continues on his journey, though, only to realize he doesn’t know where he is. “I am LOST!!!” he laments.

Yes. The book is perhaps more suited to adults in a midlife crisis.

Fortunately, Bear journeys on and ends up in another comfy little house, meets another new friend, and now loves blueberry pie. Sooooo . . . he kind of ends up where he started.

To be clear, it’s a glorious aspiration to empower young children to believe in themselves. If more five year olds were in tune to their inner voices, perhaps by 20 or 30 they’d find themselves and their purpose in life. It just seems like a stretch that this journey of inner reflection can start so young.

Will kids connect to the story? Maybe. Dubuc’s softly colored watercolor illustrations will draw them in, and no doubt they’ll be curious where Bear ends up. The language is simple and the sentences short, making the reading accessible for young readers. If some adult prompts them with some thoughtful questions along the way, they might even cotton to the idea they have an inner voice. Will this be a book that falls into the category of wanting to read over and over and over? Well, probably not. At least not for the kids. Your 40-year-old friends might appreciate it most.