Cover image for Summers with the bears : six seasons in the Minnesota woods
Summers with the bears : six seasons in the Minnesota woods
Becklund, Jack.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [1999]

Physical Description:
178 pages : illustrations, map ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL737.C27 B4345 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QL737.C27 B4345 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In the animal-loving tradition of James Herriot, this delightful story, now in paperback, explores the relationship between man and one of natures smartest, most interesting, and sensitive creaturesthe black bearand how this experience enriched two peoples lives. Poignant and entertaining, and enhanced by photos that reveal a unique and amazing friendship, Summers with the Bears is a fascinating chronicle of what happens when humans and wild animals cross the boundaries into each others world.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The author, a newspaper editor and owner, and his wife moved to a small town on the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. There they bought a house in the woods complete with bird feeders, a deck, and wild black bears. Although the author freely admits to his initial fear of bears, his wife befriended a yearling cub that found the sunflower seeds put out for the birds to be a wonderful snack. The next six summers, when the bears were most active, were enriched by watching Little Bit (the first cub) and the other bears that were attracted to their yard. Little Bit, a female named Big Mama, and their cubs became accustomed enough to their human benefactors to allow, and even welcome, petting and other contact. The author strongly makes the point that this was a unique situation and that the bears allowed no contact with other people--an important caveat! This warm and intimate look at animals most of us never get to see is highly recommended. --Nancy Bent

Publisher's Weekly Review

A sharp eye and clear prose make Becklund's account of his and his wife's friendship with a group of black bears a delightful, heartwarming read. When Jack and Patti Becklund moved from Florida back to a creek-side A-frame in Jack's hometown of Grand Marais, Minn., they both subscribed to the philosophy that "bears were most useful when turned into bearskin rugs." But after they found a lonely yearling eating the sunflower seeds they had set out for the birds, their hearts were stolen. A few pans of seeds later, Patti made friends with the cub, naming her Little Bit, and soon the Becklunds had as many as 12 yearlings and adult bears tussling in the grass of their backyard (and eating up to 700 pounds of corn in a summer). Their yard had become a sanctuary from the area's hunters, a place to fatten up before the next winter. Jack's keen observations track the bears' growth and development over six summers, but the centerpiece is the unique friendship the Becklunds developed with Little Bit. Becklund's prose occasionally turns sentimental, but most readers will forgive him for that: one day Little Bit "nuzzled Patti's hand, as she often did when she wanted to be hand-fed... Patti picked up the nuts... [but] because of very low blood pressure, she'd become dizzy and her hand was shaking. Little Bit saw her hand.... She lifted her large paw, cupped it beneath Patti's hand, and actually held her hand steady while gently picking the nuts up with her mouth." Stories like these would be hard to believe if they weren't corroborated by the 42 b&w photos that grace the text. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This is a delightful and warm tale of Becklund's experiences with black bears. When he and his wife moved from Florida to Minnesota, they found their home on Elbow Creek, near Grand Marais, to be deep in bear country. First attracted to the Becklunds' deck by the bird-feeding stations, Little Bit, a very young bear, befriended Jack and Patti for six seasons. They watched her mature and, over the seasons, return with her own young. Throughout these years, other bears also established relationships, but none so special as the one with Little Bit. Becklund does not advocate bears as pets and never tried to "tame" any of the bears that made their acquaintance‘this message is clear. But also clear is the extraordinary opportunity the Becklunds were afforded to observe, learn about, understand, and cherish bears. When Little Bit did not return, they decided to stop putting out seeds, and eventually the bears ceased their visits. Illustrated with enchanting photos, this is an enjoyable read. For public libraries.‘Nancy J. Moeckel, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.