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The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas    by Stan Berenstain, Jan Berenstain & Mike Berenstain order for
Berenstain Bears Save Christmas
by Stan Berenstain
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The perennially popular Berenstain Bears are back with what's sure to become a regular holiday read for countless little ones. I picked many of their books for my own children when they were small, mainly for their messages.

This one takes aim at the excess of commercialism at Christmas time ... 'The stores were a-selling, / the horns were a-blowing, / the shoppers were / busily to-ing and fro-ing.' Of course, Papa Bear, Brother and Sister are right in there. As usual, it's Mama Bear who centers the family. She misses the Christmastime that was 'a time just for caring, / a time for all families / to be giving and sharing.'

She's not the only one. Watching 'this mess' is quickly turning Santa into a Scrooge, and he decides to cancel his part in festivities unless he can locate 'the true spirit of Christmas'. Where does he find it? Well, Mama Bear has her way and simplifies their celebration, Papa Bear braves a blizzard to feed 'a tiny hungry bird', and the cubs ask only for gifts for others. Santa shares an old-fashioned Christmas Eve with them, and then gets to work.

Though the verses are often awkward, this story's heart is in exactly the right place. The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas is a well told reminder of what the holiday should be about.

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