Unfortunately, one of my daughter’s current favorite books is “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt“. We’ve read it probably a thousand times, maybe more, since we got it and I have to say it’s one of the worst examples of parenting I’ve come across in a children’s book to date.
The book starts off fairly normal…A family heads out on an adventure together. Sounds fun, right?! Wrong. By page six things take a turn for the worse. Here we have two parents with three children, the youngest of which couldn’t be more than two, with their dog heading through a deep, cold river. And what do they do?! They go through it. Seriously?! In what universe is it ever a good idea to take your children through a deep, cold river. That’s downright dangerous. Ready.gov indicates that a mere six inches of moving water is enough to take you off your feet. Couldn’t they have been more prepared? Surely they knew that their journey would lead them towards the river. A boat sure would have been a nice thought, don’t you think?
On page eleven the family’s journey leads them to a big, dark forest. Now I don’t have an issue with a good day hike, so long as you’re prepared. By now these children are most certainly hungry. Did the parents pack snacks? How about a First Aid kit? Flashlights? Anything? No, they didn’t. Really?! REALLY?!
The next step in their quest to find a bear leads them directly into a snowstorm with no coats, no boots, and no protection from the dangerous weather. One would think, at this point, that they would give up and head home. Do they? Nope. They sure don’t. It’s also about this point in the book that one begins to question certain things. Has this journey on foot through a raging river, a terrifying forest, and a swirling snowstorm, all happened on the same day? Where the heck do these people live that they encounter every horror that mother nature can throw at them? If, as logic would dictate, this story is an amalgamation of several different bear hunts, why are they always in the same clothes? One of the girls is in a little dress. Not exactly your go-to bear hunting gear, or appropriate for a snowstorm or river fording for that matter.
After all of this, the adventurous sixsome heads directly into a cave. Ok, more questions. Is this actually a real bear hunt?!?! Throughout most of the story the natural assumption is that this family is going on a nice, albeit unusually treacherous, walk around nature. The guise of this family adventure is that they are on a pretend bear hunt. That’s kind of nice, right? It’s fun to pretend. Now they are strolling into a cave, which is pretty much what you would do if you are really looking to hunt and kill a bear. The only problem with that is they have no weapons and a toddler in tow. What is their plan? Throw the baby at it and hit it with a stick? Anyway, they waltz their way into the cave, and what do they happen upon?!
A bear. Of course. And so they run. Back through the cave, they brave the snowstorm once again, trip over things making their way back through the forest, trek back through the mud, wade through the water, run across the grass, and finally make their way back home before realizing that going on a bear hunt was probably the worst possible choice they could have made for their day.
What about the bear, you may ask? He just gives up and goes home…like any bear who’s spent an afternoon chasing an entire family would do. I imagine the bear walks away sullenly with this music playing in the background.
What’s the point of all this? I have no idea. Maybe it’s that we don’t have any control over what our kids choose as their favorite books. Even though I think this book is silly and weird, C loves it and that’s what really matters. When she gets older we might discuss the need to be better prepared for snowstorms, and how venturing into dark caves in bear country may not be the wisest decision, but for now I will read it over and over as long as it makes her happy.
Or maybe we just need to buy more books so she can get a new favorite, maybe something with a family who is less reckless and more prepared.