The Bear’s Song – Also Known As “Une chanson d’ours”

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The Bear’s Song by Benjamin Chaud was first published in France in 2011 under the title Une chanson d’ours.  It is exquisite and amusing.  Papa Bear starts hibernating, but Little Bear is too busy chasing a honeybee “to hear winter’s whisper.”  Papa suddenly awakens and realizes Little Bear is gone.  From there, a cat and mouse chase begins through the forest, the city and into The Palais Garnier as Papa Bear searches diligently for Little Bear.  The Palais Garnier is a 1,979 seat opera house in Paris.

The story is simple, but the illustrations are not.  The color scheme consisting mostly of muted red, gold, grey and black gives the book an elegant flair. ML searched for Papa Bear and Little Bear and Bee in each page spread.  She enjoyed the detailed scenes…  two woodcutters climbing a tree leaving the saw in the trunk below…  an elephant in the window of a fancy apartment house…  what ML perceived to be mermaid enjoying a drink with her date before the show.

We loved the varied reactions of people encountering the bear.  ML’s favorite scene… when the bear is on stage and everyone runs for safety.  Especially those climbing the poles to get in the balcony.

I always discover something when focusing on a book first published in another country.  With this book, the cover of the English edition differs from the French version.  See both covers above.  It’s a marketing thing.  Lauren Smith created the cover, and her website states “My job was to create a new cover and interior text layout to work more effectively for the American market while still keeping its Parisian charm.”  Maybe books with red covers sell better in France;  and books with blue covers and cuddling bears sell better in the United States.  Wishing I had the French version to see the differences in text layout.

Check out the covers for other languages below.  The Greek Version ena nanourisma gia arkoudes / ένα νανούρισμα για αρκούδες cover is the same image of the original French version but with a different color scheme and font.  The cover of the German version Bühne frei für Papa Bär! differs completely from the English and French versions.  Other than the title,The Polish version Misiowa piosenka,  Italian version Una canzone da orsi and Swedish version Björnens sång.  Same illustration, same font, same color scheme.

Thank you Chronicle Books for publishing this translation.  ML and I will remember pouring over the illustrations many years.  Check out the covers for other languages below.  We found them fascinating.  I wonder how many languages this book has been published in?  It deserves to be a star of children’s literature internationally.  We are looking forward to the English publication of Coquillages et petit ours… The Bear’s Sea Escape in August, 2014.  Amy Yu Gray created a new cover for the English edition.

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