On May 22, 1980 I was leading a group of ninth grade students through Quincy Market in Boston, and I sauntered into a bookstore. As I was pawing through books in the children's section, I came across The Bear Who Wanted to Be a Bear, fell in love with it, and purchased it for my sons. This past holiday season my younger son asked me if I remembered the book and had the copy I bought all those years ago. In fact, I did; I vividly remembered the copy; it had illustrations that reminded me of the 1962 Stanley Kubrick movie A Clockwork Orange. The original story, written by Frank Tashlin, has a bit of a Simpsonesque feel to it — it's eloquently written for both children and adults. I bought my son his own copy.
Listening to Weekend Edition (scroll down a bit to get to the reading) recently, I heard Scott Simon and Daniel Pinkwater read Tashlin's original book, The Bear That Wasn't on the occasion of its re-issuance by the New York Review of Books Children's Collection. In case you missed reading the book in your parenting or teaching work, here it is in full color.