Nikolai, The Only Bear

There are one hundred orphans at the Russian orphanage, but Nikolai is the only bear. He growls when he speaks and claws the air when he plays. “Play nice, Nikolai,” the keepers say. No one wants to take Nikolai home. Until one day, when a fur-faced man and a smooth-faced woman come to visit from America. They growl with him and play with him, and sing songs that make him feel soft-bearish. And when it’s time for them to go home, Nikolai knows that he has found the right family at last.

One thought on “Nikolai, The Only Bear

  1. Lindsay Gregory says:

    I was drawn to the description of this book as I had a childhood friend adopted from an orphanage in Russia. He entered my elementary school when we were 7 and I was curious about his life before America. Ironically I was assigned to be his transition buddy by our teacher and got to know him very well. Nikolai’s story reminded me of his, as he just wanted to be picked out by a family and taken to a new home. Finally when the couple from America comes, Nikolai as my friend, found their place. In the story, Nikolai is the only bear in the orphanage. I feel as if this acts as a symbol in the story. Nikolai cannot be understood by those around him and feels he does not fit in at the orphanage whether its playing with the other children or singing in music class. As the story stresses other children are adopted by new families, Nikolai still remains. Until the one family comes who sees and understands who he is and makes him feel loved. Nikolai finds his place where he belongs. I liked the front and back cover illustrations. The front cover depicts Nikolai all by himself with a sad face, playing alone. The back cover illustration depicts Nikolai with the group of other children, where he immediately stands out representing how he feels that he does not fit in with the other children and longs for that feeling of belonging. The story touches upon the themes of love and belonging, and adoption in a way which children can understand and relate to.

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