Literature: Little Bear

From left to right: Duck, Emily, Little Bear, Owl, Cat, Hen, Mother Bear, Father Bear
Little Bear, a series of books written by Elsie Minarik and a 65-Episode Cartoon adaptation by Nelvana. It follows the stories of a...well, little bear, his friends Hen, Owl, Cat, Duck, and Emily, who's human. Later, they are joined by Mitzi, a monkey. The series was created by Else Minarik and the books were illustrated by Maurice Sendak. It currently runs in syndication on Nick Jr..

In Christmas of 2000, a film based on the animated series was released in theaters, and later to video in 2001. It revolves around Little Bear meeting a mysterious bear around his age named Cub, and trying to reunite him with his parents upon learning that they had been separated.

These works provide examples of:

  • A Dog Named Dog: Several animal characters are named after their species.
  • Animal Talk: Cat, duck, snake, etc.
  • Berserk Button: Cub from The Movie didn't appreciate being called a "wild bear". When Little Bear asked him if he was one, Cub tackled him to the ground and demanded that he take it back.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Season 1's "Your Friend, Little Bear" ends with Emily leaving, but Little Bear writing to her.
    • Although sources vary on whether it or "Falling Leaves" is the last segment of the episode, or even if it's the last episode of the season.
  • Brutal Honesty: The close-captioning on "Little Bear's Band". It describes their music as being "off key and offbeat", later says "they resume playing, still awful", although it does say they play well at the end.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Little Bear is a bear, but is friends with a cat, a hen and a duck, all of which can be prey animals to a bear. The only meat he is seen eating is fish, and this is mostly because No Cartoon Fish is in appliance.
    • There are also Cat and Owl. They are said to hunt at night and when Little Bear meats a mouse, he knows that he has to hide it from them.
  • Cats Are Snarkers
  • Classical Music: The music cues of the show are very classical-sounding.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Little Bear was voiced by Kristin Fairle, who later went on to voice Bridget in Total Drama Island.
  • Cool Old Lady: Emily's granny.
  • The Ditz: Duck
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Nofeet the snake (No feet).
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Food Porn: Considering how far back the show is, one of the things that the characters do for pleasure is eating. With titles like "Father's Flying Flapjacks", "Applesauce", and "Little Bear's Sweet Tooth", you can tell it's pretty much a trademark of the show.
    • Averted in "Little Bear and the Cupcakes". See Lethal Chef.
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: Occurs with startling frequency, with the Little Bear almost always involved as either the tickler or ticklee. All the characters shown in the opening end up getting tickled at least once.
  • Funny Animal: Little Bear and his family.
  • Furry Confusion: Tutu the dog speaks French. The other animals speak Animal Talk, yet Little Bear is a Funny Animal. A "wild" cub is shown, when most other bears are basically the same as humans.
    • The Movie is even more confusing. For one Little Bear is shown drinking from a river like a regular bear, right after putting a carton down. A Mountain Lion appears, and he is shown in a manner that emphasizes the fact he's a predator.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In "The Wedding" Cat sings "Here Comes the Bride, Big, Fat and Wide!"
    • "Family Bath Time" is pretty much this entirely; an episode featuring parents and children bathing together would be less likely to fly nowadays.
  • Good Parents: Little Bear's parents definitely apply.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Although all of Little Bear's relatives are fully clothed he and his other animal friends are naked.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The TV show was initially advertised as "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear." However, this is peculiar, as Maurice Sendak only illustrated the Little Bear books—Else Minarik was the author. In fact, this is so prevalent that even certain Little Bear bears written by Minarik but illustrated by somebody other than Sendak still carry the "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear" logo.
  • Lethal Chef: In the episode where Little Bear and Emily make cupcakes, they go so far as to put a fish in the batter. And that's the least of those cupcakes' problems...
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!
  • No Cartoon Fish: Fish are essentially the only animals that don't talk, or at least show some level of sapience. One episode even had a talking moth. Probably a good thing, as two of the primary cast are animals well-known for eating fish...
    • There's even a scene where we see Owl grab a fish, which was clearly alive and jumping, in his beak and subsequently eating it.
  • No Name Given: All of the characters are named after what they are, except Tutu the Dog, Mitzi the Monkey and Nofeet the Snake.
  • Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Surprisingly averted. In one episode where Emily was shown in a bathing suit during a swimming scene, she wore a swimsuit that wouldn't look out of place in the time the series was made (the 1990s) but definitely would during the time the series is set (1910s or 1920s).
  • One Mario Limit: Averted. Despite the great popularity of this series, a number of other authors have released picture books featuring a main character named simply "Little Bear."
  • Only Child Syndrome
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: One character Little Bear befriends is a teal-haired mermaid. This being a children's show, she is modestly dressed (wearing a loose tank top instead of a Seashell Bra or Godiva Hair), and she is consistently a sweet, kind Proper Lady, as opposed to the more typical Tsundere and Yandere mermaids.
  • Parental Abandonment: None of the other animal kids appear to have parents.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Emily is sort of this, although she's more of a brunette.
  • Running on All Fours: Little Bear
  • Shout-Out: One episode had Little Bear wearing a troll mask that looked an awful lot like a Where the Wild Things Are monster, alluding to Maurice Sendak.
  • Sixth Ranger: While Little Bear met Emily during the series, she was introduced in the first season, so it's debatable whether or not she counts. However, Nofeet the snake and Mitzi the monkey definitely do.
  • Smelly Skunk: Mr. and Mrs. Skunk.
  • Story Arc: Sort of. In the first season, it's known that Emily will be leaving in the fall to go to school, and it occurs in the season finale. Later in the second season, she returns permanently.
    • The episode "The Painting/The Kiss/The Wedding" forms a storyarc. It's actually based on the book "A Kiss For Little Bear".
  • Sweet Tooth: The basis of an episode in the third season.
  • Talking Animal: Every character except for Emily, Granny and Tutu.
  • That Poor Cat: Cat had this in early episodes.
  • Token Human: Emily
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction:
    • Near the beginning of the intro with Owl, where he flies into the screen.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Clever Cricket never appears after his one appearence.
  • When Trees Attack: The Laughing Tree
  • Younger Than She Looks: Emily. She looks about 10 or 11, but doesn't even turn 7 until halfway through the series.
    • Somewhat justified, seeing as she looks much younger in the book illustrations.