Sometimes it takes a caring friend to deliver a hard-to-digest truth. Sometimes to make things better we just need a warm bath and a friend to scratch that hard-to-reach itch. Big Smelly Bear by German author Britta Teckentrup has quickly become a favorite in our house lately. It stars a big brown bear- a big smelly brown bear- who has no interest in taking care of himself by brushing or bathing until he realizes it is keeping him from having any friends.
“Big Smelly Bear never brushed. Big Smelly Bear never took a bath. Big Smelly Bear was followed by a big smelly stink wherever he went. Flies buzzed all around him. But they were the only ones that ever came close.”
One day, he meets a Big Fluffy Bear who offers to scratch his itch if he takes a bath. They argue back and forth, but when Big Fluffy Bear finally shouts, “you stink!” Big Smelly Bear decides to give bathing a try. On its surface, this picture book is simply a silly story about bathing. But it also features themes about friendship, stubbornness, caring for yourself, and being honest even when it’s hurtful.
Big Smelly Bear makes a fantastic read-aloud because of its large, colorful illustrations; its humor and fun. It would fit well in a preschool story time about bears, bathtime, friendship, or silly stories. The argument between bears invites an opportunity for audience participation. In writing this post, I realized that I’m already familiar with Britta Teckentrup through her stories Animal 123 and Animal Spots and Stripes, as well as Grumpy Cat, Clumsy Duck and more. Hopefully you’ll fall in love with her books as much as I have!