Published by Zonderkidz on March 7th 2017
Purchase on: Amazon, Walmart, Target, Books A Million, The Book Depository, Barnes & Noble
In the newest Berenstain Bear Living Lights title, The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Pets, Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear love their pets Little Lady, Gracie, Swish, and Cutsie … they are just like part of the Bear family. So when Preacher Brown holds a special Blessing of the Pets service on Sunday, the Bear family joins in. But what starts as a peaceful gathering of Bear Country neighbors and their animal friends on the lawn of the Chapel—including dogs, cats, rats, goats, and even a snake or two—ends up needing a little heavenly intervention.
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It seems like I’ve always had a back and forth time with the Berenstain Bears Living Lights Series of Faith based Stories. Some I like, others I really don’t care for. Bless Our Pets left me with very mixed feelings.
What I expected the story to be from the cover to what it was was different. I thought the book was going to be about pets and caring for them and the blessing they can be. The story was actually very different and was about taking your pets to church to be blessed by the pastor. Just reading this book for fun made for an enjoyable and humorous story, but the overall story left me questioning the message being presented.
I had mixed feelings on the concept of taking pets to church to be blessed. As you can imagine chaos ensues as the animals cause a commotion. In one sense I feel like this is an innocent concept to make an enjoyable children’s book, then on the flip side, I wonder if it creates a different view of church than what many parents want kids to know it as. I’m also not sure how kids will do with translating this concept as a fun story line versus something churches should do. I feel like it will create an opportunity for discussion.
I also know there are mixed views on blessing pets, so I feel this book needs to be read first by the parent who can decide if this is appropriate for their child.
The part of the story I really didn’t care for was the way the pastor intervened in the chaos. I felt like the author took the Bible story of Jesus calming the storms when He was on the boat and gave the power God had to the pastor. Sister Bear even comments on the pastor’s connection with “You-Know-Who.” I didn’t care for the way the pastor seemed to be elevated to having supernatural power and reflected in the same way books would describe sunlight shinning upon Jesus. I also didn’t care for Sister’s reference to God as “You-Know-Who.”
On a positive note, the illustrations were fun and the animals were cute. I’m really glad they have kept true to the Berenstain characters that I’ve come to love and haven’t tried changing them.
I still have mixed opinions on this book. On the surface, this was a fun and at times humorous story I think many kids will enjoy. I even enjoyed reading it. Then when I stop and think about the message being presented I feel parent’s need to read this book first to decide if it is right for their children.