Orchard Books, January 2008

Illustrated by Michael Emberley

This story, told by an endearing creature, is the story of how bereft this creature feels when it’s bedtime, and it has lost its favorite book-of-the-moment! First, bewilderment, then worry, and then panic sets in. “Maybe a bear ate it!” the creature worries. “Maybe a stegosaurus stomped on it!” These thoughts are much too worrisome! That’s when the creature is compelled to go and look for its beloved book — because it’s impossible to go to sleep without it!

  • A 2009 Children’s Choices Book, selected by the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council
  • A 2009 American Library Association Notable Book
  • A 2008 National Parenting Publication Gold Award Winner

“A small creature (cat?) in pajamas (with a nightcap over each pointed ear) cozies down in bed with his stuffed animals-a bear, rhino, elephant, shark, and-most important of all-his favorite book. When he snoozes a little, he wakes to find it has disappeared. After imagining different horrifying scenarios, which involve his plush animals turned real (“Maybe a BEAR ate it!”; “Maybe a STEGOSAURUS stomped on it!”), he starts to search and finally finds the book under his bed. “You know what? I LOVE my book!” he says, snuggling down among his toys to read. The minimal text is perfectly matched with wonderfully expressive cartoon illustrations that mirror the youngster’s emotions as he conjures up each possible disaster. Exactly right for preschool storytime or toddler bedtime, this story will tickle the funny bones of both readers and their audiences.”

-School Library Journal

“The story is familiar: a child’s precious possession is lost, causing all kinds of angst. In this book, though, the art is the story, with just a few well-chosen words to emphasize or clarify what’s happening in the pictures. A whiskered critter (possibly a kitty) clad in stripped pajamas (even his ears and tail are covered) is ready for bed. He climbs among his blankets with his book and his stuffed toys, which include a bat, a shark, and a bear. After arranging everything, he opens his book and begins to read, a look of total rapture on his face. But in the midst of wiggles and yawns, the book disappears. Chewing on the corner of his blankie, he mourns its loss. Has it been stolen by a bat? Swallowed by a shark? Eaten by a bear? Nope. What really happened, as children will eventually discover, is not nearly as exotic. Plain white backgrounds allow Emberley to concentrate closely on his toddler-critter, whose every movement is carefully calibrated. Emberley obviously knows just how toddlers move and react, and every feeling blasts right out across the page. The picture of the critter gleefully skipping across an empty white expanse with his book in hand is priceless. Even adult readers will be hard pressed not to smile when the lost is found. Pair this with Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny books.”

-Stephanie Zvirin, Booklist

MAYBE A BEAR ATE IT! was chosen as an American Library Association Notable Book for 2009. Each year a committee identifies the best of the best in children’s books.
“A small fellow of indefinable species snuggles down for the night with his stuffed animals and a much beloved book. A particularly vigorous yawn, however, dislodges the tome from its place on the bed and onto the floor where it is promptly lost. The only logical conclusion to be drawn, therefore, is that a bear has eaten the book. Or maybe a stegosaurus “stomped on it.” As each fearsome beast is inspired by a soft squishy toy on the bed, our hero grows more and more outlandish in his theorizing. Finally, he searches high and low for the beloved object and emerges in fits of pure unadulterated joy when he finds it. Harris drills home the affection we all feel for those objects we name as “ours.” The art here is also unexpectedly irresistible, not to mention moving, guaranteeing that for at least one child this will become a very special book of his or her own.”

-Kirkus Reviews

“A wide-eyed critter of indeterminate species, surrounded by an elaborate bedtime ensemble of stuffed animals, is cuddled up with his favorite book. But in the middle of a big yawn, he inadvertently and unknowingly kicks the book under his bed. Readers will easily spot it (the bright red volume juts out from one of the bed’s front legs), but the critter would much rather give in to wild speculation than actually hunt for it. “Maybe a BEAR ate it!” he shrieks, and Emberley (paired with Harris for It’s So Amazing!) imagines a scowling hulking ursine beast attacking the volume with a fork. Or maybe a shark consumed it; but at least all the sea creatures in its stomach can enjoy circle time. This is really more of a skit than a story, but it has a sound and effective unspoken message about not jumping to conclusions and taking responsibility for one’s belongings. Besides, Harris and Emberley are clearly having so much fun that their enjoyment is infectious.”

-Publishers Weekly

“It’s refreshing to read a picture book about a cherished childhood object that is a book itself. Think about it: Most picture books about lost beloved items concern blankies, or stuffed animals, or favorite toys. Harris’s new picture book turns its focus to the pleasure a most-loved book can bring a child and the corresponding pain it causes when it goes missing. Maybe a Bear Ate It! opens with five wordless pages showing our protagonist’some sort of cute creature with badger-like facial features-reading his favorite book.”

-Kelly Herold, Book Buds

“Meltdown in the making: A favorite book is lost. Readers can always see where the book has actually fallen, but the more spectacular suppositions are fun to watch: “Maybe a shark swallowed it.”

-Mary Harris Russell, Chicago Tribune

“For the very young, pre-school age, Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley have combined their respective writing and illustrating talents in one of best new books of the year, Maybe a Bear Ate It… This picture book features a youngster whose book accidentally slides off the bed, producing a major series of possibilities that possibly a bear, a dinosaur, a shark or an elephant had something to do with its loss. A frantic search ensues. It’s hilarious. I loved it!” – Alan Caruba, “Funny. My four-year old will love it. Imaginative, silly, my son will laugh and relate to the love of a dear book.”

-Lisa Barker, Jelly Mom Children’s Book Reviews

“One night a little animal climbs into bed with his favorite toys and a large book. He is happily reading away when he yawns. When the animal recovers from his yawn he discovers that his book has vanished,” It’s nowhere!” The poor little critter is thoroughly dismayed. This is a catastrophe! It isn’t long before the little animal begins to imagine all the things that could have happened to his book. “Maybe a bear ate it!” or perhaps “an elephant fell asleep on it.” Finally the little animal, dressed in his striped pajamas, decides to look for the book because he cannot fall asleep without it. In no time he has turned the house upside down. And then he makes a remarkable discovery. In this utterly delightful and very sweet picture book little children who love books can have a wonderful time sharing an adventure with the story’s hero. Where did his book go? Did something awful happen to it? The happy ending will make everyone laugh and certainly readers will be much relieved that a bear did not eat the little critter’s beloved volume. With minimal text and wonderfully expressive artwork, this is an excellent title for little children.”

-Through The Looking Glass Children’s Book Review

“A darling, little, big-red nosed creature gets ready for bed by first arranging a variety of stuffed animals and a book on his bed. With everything set, the little guy climbs into bed and is fascinated by his book, so much so, that on the next page, he literally has his nose in the book. As he gets sleepy and yawns, the book disappears. As with human little ones, the emotions become overwhelming. His fears get the best of him as he imagines a bear eating his book, a stego stomping on it, a rhino running away with it, and a series of other tragedies carried out by the very same animals that he brought to bed with him. Not being able to sleep without it, he looks everywhere and is rewarded in finding it just where the observant reader saw it fall in the beginning. Told mostly in pictures with few words and lots of white space, the little one is always center stage, altogether creating a seemingly simple story that in reality tells a common tale of early depth of feelings. Two to four-year olds especially will recognize themselves while at the same time laughing at the hilarious possibilities of what happened to the beloved book. That the reader is in on it from the beginning makes it all the more fun, as young kids will enjoy knowing what the character doesn’t.”

-The Field Guide To Parenting

“Harris and Emberley, both veteran picture-book creators, fashion a fun romp through the active imagination of a child. Already deemed a “Reach Out and Read” (a nonprofit literacy organization – feature title for the new year, “Maybe a Bear Ate It!” follows the antics of a young critter with a missing book. Did a bear eat the book? Maybe a stegosaurus stomped on it, or a shark swallowed it, but eventually our anxious pajama-clad little guy finds his book on his own. Simple, but with a universal premise of the loss of a loved item, Harris’ thoughtful tale rings true in this personal, preschooler-friendly topic.”

-Lee Littlewood, KIDS’ HOME LIBRARY

Embracing the ChildMAYBE A BEAR ATE IT! on its list of recommended picture books for children ages 4 and up.