Christmas Bear as a Christmas read-aloud for years. Sadly this is another one of those treasured books that is now out of print.
Santa has a terrible accident in the snow on Christmas eve. Bear is old and finding it quite difficult to settle - he should be hibernating. He finally falls into an exhausted sleep when there is a knock on his window. His friend Robin usually wakes him up in the spring after she catches her first worm but she has come on this snowy night because she needs bear to help a man who has fallen in the snow. Bear does not like humans.
"Bear walked slowly though the snow. Squeak, squeak went his big feet and paws. When they reached the part of the forest where the tall pines grew, Bear saw a small figure lying in the snow. Bear came close and saw that he was dressed in red. He stood upon his hind legs and growled. But the little man lay still. Bear approached him and sniffed his face. It was not a bad smell. Bear picked up the little man and carried him back to the house."
When he wakes Santa explains - he needs Bear to deliver all the presents this Christmas. "Bear felt old and tired" but he agrees to help and sets off to find the sleigh and rescue the reindeer. Getting down all those chimneys is hard work - a tight fit. Bear returns home after a busy night to a celebration of hot chocolate. Santa asks Bear what he would like for Christmas. "I would like to be able to catch fish easily. I would love to be able to climb trees and find the honey again."
Santa does grant these wishes but the solution might surprise you. Bear sees two special gifts on his door step when he wakes up in the spring. One good turn deserves another. Hope you can find Christmas Bear in your library next Christmas. This book reminded me of Moon Cake by Frank Asch which is also a book about hibernation.