Māsuke the Bear

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Māsuke the Bear
Author: Noboru Baba
Specifications: ISBN  978-4591154519
32 pages
19.0 x 23.0 cm / 7.6 x 9.2 in (WxH)
Category: Children & YA
Ages: 3+
Publisher: Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.
Tokyo, 1980
Buy now: amazon.co.jp


When Māsuke the Bear comes out of the woods to play in the open fields one day, a balloon comes wafting by on the breeze. He runs in the direction it’s headed in an effort to catch it, only to trip over a stump at the last moment and lose it. When he looks up, Mr. Gorilla has caught it with a butterfly net, and is giving it to his little boy. The disappointed Māsuke climbs a tree to see if he can spy any more balloons coming this way.

As he sits on a tree branch gazing hopefully about, Mr. Pig comes by, drawing a cart loaded high with big fat daikon radishes. Suddenly remembering that he has left a basket of grapes behind, Mr. Pig asks Māsuke to watch the cart for him while he goes back to get it. Soon a little tanuki boy and bunny girl come by holding balloons. They volunteer that another one is caught in a tree on the hilltop. Māsuke feels stymied because he’s stuck watching the cart, but then it hits him that he can simply take the cart along with him. He sets off for the hill, pulling the cart behind.

When he climbs the tree and creeps out onto a branch to get the balloon, the branch breaks. He crashes down right onto the cart, upsetting it and sending the daikon tumbling into a nearby pond. By the time Mr. Pig comes looking for Māsuke, the dripping daikon are back in the cart. Mr. Pig thinks Māsuke has washed the daikon for him, so he thanks him by giving him a big bunch of juicy grapes from the basket he went back to retrieve.

Māsuke is easygoing and likes to do things at his own pace, but he also wants to be dependable. So when his determined pursuit of the balloon turns out badly, he conscientiously cleans up the mess—and, in a humorous twist, ends up being thanked for doing something helpful instead of getting in trouble for doing something wrong.