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Book Review: Big Bear was Not the Same

Title: Big Bear was Not the Same

By: Joanna Rowland

Illustrated by: John Ledda

Target age: 4-8

What's it About?

Big Bear and Little Bear are the best of friends. They romp and tumble and play all day, laughing and enjoying their free lives. But then Big Bear finds himself in a life threatening situation that terrifies him more then anything he's ever experienced before. After that, he's not the same, unable to free himself of the fear and the memory of the fire, no matter how hard Little Bear tries to help. Eventually, Little Bear realizes that the most he can do is listen and be there for his friend to help him as he manages life with PTSD.

What's it About?

My favorite thing about this book was not the gorgeous illustrations (though I did enjoy those) or the sweet nature of the bears (which was perfect for this story), but the very concept of tackling a very real mental health issue in a way that helps all ages understand what PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is. I also kind of love the fact that, in the end, we are reminded that the best things we can do to help those we love are very simple.

  1. ask what they need/want

  2. Listen to what they say...and don't say

  3. Try to understand, even if your level of understanding is just that what they've been through was scary and hard.

  4. Sometimes, just being by their side is enough.

It also did not escape me that Big Bear was the bear struggling, even though Little Bear equated Big Bear's size to fearlessness and toughness. The idea that even those who are the biggest and the strongest around us struggle, too. Sometimes they are the ones who have the hardest time asking for help. Even more, sometimes we don't even understand our own feelings or know what we need, making it even more difficult to cope with our challenges. I loved that the Big Bear wasn't immune to the emotional and mental struggles that we equate with those smaller and that that was okay. There was no judgment. There was no shame. It was just reality.

As an advocator for more mental health awareness, I was super excited to see that, at the end of the book was a "bonus" page; a tool for parents to open up the conversation of PTSD and help have guided and open discussions about what PTSD, why people have it, and how to be there for those who have it. It's a great resource that I recommend to anyone looking to help children understand the people in their life with PTSD or prepare them for those they will meet in their lives with PTSD.

What I rate this book?

I give this book a


out of

10 hugs

But that's just what I think. What did you think? Did you love it? Did you find it helpful? Let us know in the comments.

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