My good friend introduced me to the Bear series through Bear Snores On (by Karma Wilson), which she gave to me as a shower gift before Nate was born. For the first few months of Nate's life it was one of the few children's books we had and I read it to Nate almost daily without growing tired of it. It's a classic tale of home invasion - while the bear hibernates, various woodland creatures (including Mouse, Badger and Mole) take shelter from a storm in Bear's cave. And he "sleeps through a party in his very own lair" ...for awhile anyway. I love the illustrations by Jane Chapman - warm and humorous. But the best part is the poetry of the story:
"Ho, Mouse!" says Hare.
"Long time, no see!"
So they pop white corn.
And they brew black tea.
We loved the Bear books so much that in the first six months we expanded our collection to include Bear Wants More, Bear's New Friend, Bear Feels Scared, and Bear Stays Up for Christmas. As Nate has gotten older he's less interested in books with longer stories. But just the other day he spotted Bear Snores On high up on the shelf and asked to read it (with a point and a MORE). He seemed to love it once again, so I think we'll have to add this back into the circulation.
Oh and I should add that part of the fun for me is keeping the character voices consistent from book to book. Bear is gruff, Mouse squeaks. I have given Hare what friends call my "hermaphrodite" voice. And Badger is obviously a pirate.