Nikolai, the Only Bear by Barbara Joosse

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There are one hundred orphans at the Russian orphanage, but Nikolai is the only bear. He growls when he speaks and claws the air when he plays. "Play nice, Nikolai," the keepers say. No one wants to take Nikolai home. Until one day, when a fur-faced man and a smooth-faced woman come to visit from America. They growl with him and play with him, and sing songs that make him feel soft-bearish. And when it's time for them to go home, Nikolai knows that he has found the right family at last.

Charmingly illustrated by newcomer Renata Liwska, this is an adoption fable that any child who's ever felt like an outsider will easily relate to.


About Barbara Joosse

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Barbara Joosse is the author of many acclaimed books for children, including "Mama, Do You Love Me?", illustrated by Barbara Lavallee, "Roawr!", illustrated by Jan Jutte, and "Higgledy-Piggledy Chicks", illustrated by Rick Chrustowski. She lives with her family in a cozy old stone house in Wisconsin. Renata Liwska lives and works in Calgary, Canada, with her illustrator husband, Mike. Her childhood memories are of growing up in Warsaw, Poland.
Published March 17, 2005 by Philomel. 32 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Children's Books.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Nikolai, the Only Bear

Kirkus Reviews

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Nikolai, a small, smudged, dark brown cub with a red kerchief, stands out among the other ragdoll-like figures, his feelings expressed in relatively subtle but clear shifts of head and posture.

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Publishers Weekly

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No one can understand him ("His first word was 'Hello.'/ He said it like this: 'Rrroaar ' "), and his natural cub rambunctiousness is frowned upon (albeit gently—the tale makes clear that with "ninety-nine keepers and one hundred orphans," the orphanage is not of the Dickensian model).

Apr 11 2005 | Read Full Review of Nikolai, the Only Bear

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