Brother Hugo and the Bear is loosely based on a note found in a twelfth-century manuscript -- and largely on the creative imaginings of author Katy Beebe. Lavishly illustrated by S. D. Schindler in the style of medieval manuscripts, this humorous tale is sure to delight readers who have acquired their own taste for books.
My thoughts: I just love when picture books introduce young children to a different historical world than that which they might normally. Going way back to medieval times is unusual for books to take a young child, but Brother Hugo and the Bear does just that. Drawing from a story that has made its way through the annals of time and was found through the research of the author, the story of Brother Hugo and his encounter with the bear that digested his book.
From this story by Katy Beebe and the delightfully and true-to-history illustrations by S.D.Schindler the young reader can....
- See a form of illuminated illustration that was used in medieval books copied by monks
- Learn that books were few and far between - pretty rare, indeed - and hand written or hand copied.
- That books were written on animal skins and a little bit about the composition of ink used to write and draw
- That when errors were made, the monks would scrap them off the skin
- That a feather was used to write and draw - the tip being sharpened and dipped in the ink
- That people were accountable for mistakes - even accidental such as when the bear ate the book
The words used in the story lend authenticity (and the kids will love the difference). Examples
- "It befell that on the first day of Lent...."
- "..truly, the words of St. Augustine are as sweet as honeycomb to me...."
- "...return the book thither."
- "...Brother Hugo thought he heard lipsmacking full close behind him. Then it must be said that he walked very quickly indeed."
I highly recommend this delightful traipse into the medieval world for the young reader. Keep in mind, that the period and the people of the book would have been monks from a Catholic monastery, but that was, after all, what much of this period of history entailed.
The following review was written by the mother of 4 girls who are being home schooled and added here on March 25, 2016:
From the very first words of Brother Hugo and the Bear, the writer captures the attention of each reader. You can't help but fall in love with a picture book that begins, "It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book." Our family loves the way the book is so beautifully worded, with a wonderful style and rhythm and a gentle current of humor woven throughout. The illustrations are also delightful. They are full of detail and perfectly express the emotions of each part of the story. You will not want to miss the series of notes at the end of the book, as they deepen your understanding of the time period and story. Brother Hugo and the Bear is a don't-miss Middle Ages tale of the plight of a monk and his library book and the bear that can't resist that book. (review: B.Suiter)DISLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review.