The Bearskinner

bearskinner.jpgBearskinner (Candlewick, $16.99), a Grimms’ fairy tale retold by Laura Amy Schlitz, is another moody mythic tale that kids will be entranced by. It tells the story of a poor soldier who is approached by the devil. The devil loves to make deals and he tells the soldier to kill a bear and wear the skin for seven years. If the soldier can do that, without ever bathing, cutting his nails or hair, and without ever praying to God, he will be rich beyond measure. If he cannot, the soldier’s soul will belong to the devil. The soldier soon finds out the difficulty of the task because he becomes more like an animal than a man and he disgusts people. But he also discovers that the bottomless pocket full of money inside the skin allows him to do some good in the world. His dearest wish is that someone see the good—the human—in him. Someone special does and this book has a satisfactory ending for the soldier. Schlitz, a librarian and storyteller, loved this story that showed that “no matter how bad things get, you hold on.”

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