About the Lima Bear Stories Books
Each picture book in the Lima Bear Stories series delivers messages for children to help them handle everyday situations with siblings and friends, including tolerance, honesty, and courage. Basic characters, each with their own distinct personality, appear and reappear throughout the series, allowing children to get to know them and anticipate how they are likely to act in different situations. Extended learning and activity questions are included to allow parents and teachers to further encourage children to become involved in the concepts presented.
Book 1: The Labyrinth
Title: The Labyrinth (Lima Bear Stories) | Authors: Thomas Weck & Peter Weck | Illustrator: Len DiSalvo | Publication Date: August 1, 2012 | Publisher: Lima Bear Stories | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 4 to 8 | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: As princess Belinda Bean takes the throne as queen and ruler of Beandom, all are happy except for the duke, Mean Ol’ Bean, who wants to be king. He lures her into a magic labyrinth from which there is no escape—until L. Joe Bean, one of her subjects, discovers the plot and mounts a rescue attempt. The primary message presented in the story is: Always make room for forgiveness in your heart.
My Thoughts: The Labyrinth is a picture book within the Lima Bear Stories series written by father-son team, Thomas Weck and Peter Weck. In this story, Mean Ol’ Bean wants to be king so he attempts to trick Princess Belinda by luring her into a labyrinth with a magical garden in its center. When he attempts to escape the labyrinth and strand the princess in the middle, his plan goes awry when L. Joe Bean, a loyal subject rescues both the princess and Mean Ol’ Bean.
I really enjoyed this wonderful little picture book and its fairy-tale style of story-telling. The story features a common theme with a villain trying to be the ruler of the land by disposing of his competition until a pint-sized bear emerges to save the day. The characters are well developed and depicted brilliantly through both the illustrations and the writing with Mean Ol’ Bean as the villain, and L. Joe Bean as the hero. And, in this case, L. Joe Bean truly is a hero because he saves both the princess and the villain.
There are a few very clever things inserted in the book that adults will pick up on and get a chuckle out of including the play on words/letters with the character L. Joe Bean (perhaps a play on L. L. Bean the store?) and the cutting of an “L” into the chariot and shirt of Mean Ol’ Bear (a nod to the mark of Zorro, perchance?) There are many fun and exciting scenes contained within the book that will definitely keep children’s attention and have them cheering and jeering along with the story.
The book includes full-page illustrations that appear to be hand-drawn in colored pencil. They are very beautiful and detailed. The illustrator did an incredible job providing the contrast between the evil Mean Ol’ Bear and the other characters. The book itself is very sturdy and is quite large (81/2″ x 11″). This is a very high quality book physically. Worthy of a mention are the learning extensions included in the back of the book giving parents, teachers or librarians ideas for questions to ask before, during, and after reading the book, as well as a number of suggested activities to supplement the text. I thought this was very well done!
My Bottom Line: This wonderful picture book uses a fairy-tale style to tell the story about evil Mean Ol’ Bean who tries to trick Princess Belinda into getting lost in a labyrinth only to be outwitted by L. Joe Bean, a pint-sized hero. I recommend this book to parents, teachers and librarians who can read the story and use the learning extensions to further enhance the reading of this fun little story. Ages 4 to 8.
Book 2: Bully Bean
Title: Bully Bean (Lima Bear Stories) | Authors: Thomas Weck & Peter Weck | Illustrator: Len DiSalvo | Publication Date: April 25, 2014 | Publisher: Lima Bear Stories | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 4 to 8 | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: In the kingdom of Beandom, Bully Bean is feared. He plays mean tricks, makes fun of other beans, and puts them in danger. Lima Bear, the only bean with green fur who is always helping others, seems to be Bully Bean’s favorite bean to pick on. But what happens when Bully Bean is in danger? Will Lima Bear and his friends run away, or will they rescue him? Bully Bean expects the worst, but Lima Bear knows that treating others with kindness is the right thing to do, even though Bully Bean has bullied him for a long time. Lima Bear soon returns with a large group of friends to help rescue Bully Bean, who learns to use his large size to help with tasks in the Kingdom rather than be hurtful.
My Thoughts: Bully Bean is a big strong bear who enjoys tormenting all the other beans; but, he especially loves giving Lima Bean the hardest time of all. Lima Bean lives in fear of being chased by Bully Bean, pushed into puddles, and thrown into holes. One day, Lima Bean takes a nice stroll into a nearby cave filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Gazing upon the color-filled wonder, Lima Bean realizes that Bully Bean has followed him into the cave and is now giving him chase. To Bully Bean’s horror, a large boulder breaks off and falls on him trapping him to the ground. Looking after one of their kind, Lima Bean and his friends team up to rescue Bully Bean teaching him a lesson about forgiveness, compassion, and working together as a community.
Bully Bean is a fantastic picture book about bullying, growth, and forgiveness. We see the character of Bully Bean develop from a mean-spirited bully into a hard-working member of the community (resulting in a name change!) I also thought it was a great lesson for children that Lima Bear and his friends did not hesitate to come help Bully Bean even after he had hurt them. I loved this focus on humanity and “doing the right thing” regardless of how they had been treated by Bully in the past. As a result of this compassion, Bully completely transformed into a different bean. This reinforces what I teach my children about compassion. I also appreciate how the beans problem-solved to lift the heavy boulder in the rescue. Their first few attempts failed but they kept trying until they finally came up with an effective solution. I thought this was also a good lesson about perseverance.
The book also features beautiful, (often) full-page illustrations that are colorful and detailed. The physical book is very sturdy as are the individual pages (i.e., they will withstand the flipping of the pages). At the back of the book, there are a number of learning extensions giving parents, teachers, or librarians ideas for questions to ask before, during, and after reading the book, as well as a number of suggested activities to supplement the text. This is a terrific add-on! There is also a lovely letter from author Thomas Weck to his son Peter Weck (co-author) about their collaboration, that really moved me.
My Bottom Line: Bully Bean is a wonderful picture book centered on bullying, forgiveness, compassion, and personal growth. I loved seeing Bully Bean transform after he is shown compassion from his victims and thought there were a number of important life lessons covered in the story. I recommend this great story for children ages 4 to 8.
* These books were provided to me by the author free-of-charge in exchange for my honest reviews. All opinions expressed are my own. The authors are participating in our Book Promotion Services. *