Books for Children

Willa and the Bear

By Philomena O’Neill (Author)


Format Hardcover Picture Book


Willa and the Bear

by Philomena O’Neill



Barnes and Noble Indiebound
A touching tale about a girl, her lost doll, and a bear who brings them back together.
More than anything, Willa adores her ragdoll, Rosie, made just for her by Grandma. Together, through the seasons, they picnic, pick berries, and jump in piles of leaves. But one winter’s day, on a bumpy sleigh ride to Grandma’s birthday dinner, Rosie falls into the snow and disappears. Willa is inconsolable—and not even a new gift from Grandma helps. Then, mysteriously, Rosie reappears at Grandma’s door. Can Willa find a way to thank the special friend who returned her doll? With its charming folk-style illustrations, this beautiful picture book will warm the heart of every child who has ever had a favorite, beloved toy.
“During a nighttime sleigh ride to visit her grandparents, young Willa discovers an unknown friend, an ursine guardian who protects her dearest possession—a small rag doll handmade by her Grandma Bibbie. The winter setting in a northern forest features a variety of illustration sizes, including small portrait views of Willa's happy play, a tunnel view of the snowy trail ahead between the ears of a horse, and larger full-page or spread views with varying perspective. Shadows and light illuminate human emotions, the love of family, or the emptiness of a dark and vast forest. Willa suddenly loses her doll with an unfortunate bounce of the sled. But she has an unexpected follower: a large black bear, fascinated by the doll and the little girl who lost it. A nighttime visit, beautifully painted watercolor and acrylics, the softness of snow lightly touched by the soft blue of paw prints, a child's emotions, and the love surrounding family and a not-so-wild animal visitor create a sweet tale for the very young told with the immediacy of present tense. VERDICT A lovely bedtime read-aloud recommended for first purchase.” —School Library Journal

“On a ride to Grandma Bibbie's birthday celebration, young Willa's beloved rag doll, Rosie, is lost in the dark woods then comes back in an unexpected way.After the horse-drawn sleigh hits a bump and Rosie flies out into the snow, Willa and her parents stop to search—but the sun is going down, and they must get on. After they leave, a bear finds the doll, puts it on his back and pads along behind. When Willa arrives at her grandparents' cabin she is presented with a small sewn bear that matches Grandpa's new trousers. Catching sight of the real bear through the window she cries a warning, but when Papa cracks the door to peer out he finds only Rosie on the doorstep. Later, on the way home, Willa leaves the toy bear in the snow in exchange. "My friend will love you," she whispers…and indeed, the last scene is a view of the live bear, curled in his den, clutching the cloth one. Unlikely as the episode may be, it has a cozy feel that O'Neill's paintings, which strongly resemble Garth Williams' Little House illustrations in settings and homespun style, amplify. The human figures are all white, ruddy of cheek, and dressed in country clothing; the snuffling bear is depicted with comfortably shaggy and rotund naturalism. A sweet tale of giving and giving back.” —Kirkus Reviews


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A sweet tale of giving and giving back.
- Kirkus Reviews

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Philomena O'Neill was born in Ireland. Her family moved to Ghana, West Africa when she was eight years old and immigrated to Canada when she was 14. She met her husband in 1976 on a sailboat in Patchogue, Long Island, and shortly after marrying, moved to Seattle where they raised four children. She has been illustrating children's books, magazines, and education material for nearly 20 years. You can see more illustration work on her website at

Pub Date: 10/3/2017

ISBN: 9781454925736

Price: $16.95 / $19.95 CAN

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Pages: 40 pages, all in color

Trim: 10.875 x 8.5 Inches

Territories: World

Category: Juvenile / Picture Books

Age Range: 4 and up

Publisher: Sterling Children's Books

Carton Quantity: 32