This Christmas, Teach Your Kid How To Talk Like A Bear

This sweet new picture book will make your kids cackle with glee.

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There are great picture books that teach children profound lessons about life or help them go to sleep. Others explore fantastical worlds or reassure little ones that it’s OK to feel frightened about transition or change. But we all know that the very best ones make kids laugh. Big stupid, silly wheezy laughs. Even better if it's at their parents’ expense.

How to Talk Like A Bear by Charlie Grandy, with illustrations by Alex C. Griffiths, is the latest entry in this particular category. The book features an adorable bear who coaches kids on how to roar and growl at just the right pitch and volume. Though he is a decidedly non-frightening bear in a T-shirt and pants (no Pooh-like bare butt for this guy), his aim is to frighten people off so he can eat their ice cream sundaes. Problem is, a roar that means “give me your ice cream!” in Bear-ese can sound suspiciously like “go get a haircut” or “go dress up like a clown and join the circus.” Reading this story results in a call-and response of growls and roars that kids will surely enjoy — especially if they’re used to being told to keep it down.

Grandy, an Emmy-winning television writer, set out to write a kids’ book during the pandemic, when his day job was on hold. A father of three, he wanted to capture what the best picture books offered to him as an adult reader: Something truly interactive. Kids may be the primary audience, but Grandy knew that the parents who had to read the book a dozen — or even hundreds of — times were the toughest audience to please. “I thought, wouldn't it be silly if a bear was teaching you how to manipulate your parents?” says Grandy.

Even though this was Grandy’s first foray into children’s books (he has spent his entire career writing for shows like The Office, The Mindy Project, and the animated Velma, which he created for HBO MAX) writing How to Talk Like a Bear came easily to him. His only stumbling block was the brief bio on the book jacket. “I couldn’t figure it out, and then I realized there was a real easy way to get out of having to think of something clever.” He channeled his book’s hero: “Charlie Grandy growl grr LA-based writer. Roar snort grr wife growl three kids.” Done.