Storytellers have long used anthropomorphic animals as characters in morality tales. Anthropomorphising helps children to identify with what they are reading on a metaphorical level, encourages imagination, and interweaves morals into fantastical plotlines that might not otherwise make sense if the characters were human.
And of course, bears are cute.
Dr V Gilbert Beers, the author of The Adventures of Bramlee Bears series, is a prolific writer of more than 170 books. He was an editor for Christianity Today magazine, and has been writing and developing Bible reference materials for more than 50 years. He has written more than 100 children’s books, including The Toddlers Bible, which has sold close to a million copies.
The Adventures of Bramlee Bears series is a repackaging of his 2005 storybook. The four 24-page picture books in the series each comprise two “character tales” focussing on the qualities of Honesty, Kindness, Obedience and Thankfulness. The stories, featuring a cast of bears from Bramlee Woods with varied personalities, contrast good character qualities with possible bad choices, with accompanying high jinks and happy resolutions.
At the end of each book, a reflection page helps children to apply what they have learnt, and parents to contextualise the moral framework into Biblical principles. There is also a colouring page for younger children to exercise their creativity.
While the series teaches good lessons, I feel the illustrations appear somewhat dated, especially since today’s children’s book illustration styles are far more whimsical and less “cartoony” than when the original book first came out. That said, the bite-sized and wallet-friendly books, with the important values they convey, will make good Christmas presents for lower-primary schoolchildren or younger.
Series 2 of The Adventures of Bramlee Bears, focusing on Humility, Sharing, Patience and Courtesy, will be released in 2019.
Sheri Goh is the editor of Methodist Message, the mother of a tween and a toddler, and the willing slave to a cat.
Book cover visuals courtesy of Cru Singapore