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Book Review: The Ring Bear Depicts Turmoil of Becoming A Stepchild

In "The Ring Bear," a picture book by Tigard resident David Michael Slater (Flashlight Press, 2004), a single mother and her son, Westley, love to play rascally pirates. Like many single parents and their kids, it's clear the mom and her son are incredibly close: They've created their own fantasy world about Westley the Wicked and Mom the Mean.

Enter Stan, Mom's boyfriend, who sometimes comes aboard their ship but refuses to wear an eye patch and doesn't want to search for stowaways. Westley thinks it's okay if Stan comes on board, as long as he understands he's a visitor, not a real pirate like Mom and Westley.

When Mom tells Westley that she's going to marry Stan and wants him to be the ring bearer at the wedding, Westley staggers back to his pretend ship. He mistakenly thinks Mom said she wants him to be the "ring bear." Imaginative Westley assumes the role of Ring Bear and acts out his confused feelings about his mom's marriage. He snatches out of Stan's hands flowers meant for his mom; he pounces on Stan and Mom when they're watching TV; he hides in his bear cave and plots ways to wreck the wedding.

In this warm and beautifully illustrated book, children get a realistic look at how it feels to have a parent re-marry. Westley knows his mom loves him; but what about Stan?

Slater, author of Cheese Louise! and a seventh grade language arts teacher, does a great job of engaging both adults and children with this humorous book. The Ring Bear, like most picture books, ends happily: Stan dons an eye patch during the wedding, then Mom, Westley and Stan sail off together. While the happy ending may not reflect the cold realities of early stepfamily life, it will give stepchildren hope about the potential for feeling loved and accepted by a new stepparent.

Lisa Cohn, an award-winning writer, is co-author of "One Family, Two Family, New Family: Stories And Advice For Stepfamilies" To sign up for her free newsletter or read her articles, visit www.stepfamilyadvice.com.

In The News:

Skygazers will be treated to the “super snow moon,” on Feb. 19, the largest supermoon of 2019.
In November 2016, astronomers watched a young star some 1,500 light-years away from Earth belch out an explosion of plasma and radiation that was roughly 10 billion times more powerful than any flare ever seen leaving Earth's sun. This sudden stellar eruption may be the most luminous known flare ever released by a young star — and it could help scientists better understand the still-murky process of star formation.
An audacious attempt to find explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance has been called off after the expedition team lost an undersea drone beneath Antarctic ice.
“Our wish is to fly this year,” NASA official Thomas Zurbuchen said at the surprise announcement of a new Moon mission overnight. “We want to incentive speed … We want to start taking shots on goal.”
Bones recently found in a Siberian cave have given researchers a new glimpse into the timeline of an extinct human species. The species – known as Denisovans – at one time lived alongside Neanderthals in the same cave, the evidence showed.
NASA's Opportunity Rover has died on Mars.
A rare 12th-century triple toilet seat will be going on display at a London museum later this year.
Ex-baseball player Jose Canseco has officially joined the group that believes "the truth is out there" and is on the hunt for UFOs and Bigfoot. 
MILAN (AP) — Archaeologists have discovered a fresco in an ancient Pompeii residence that portrays the mythological hunter Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection.
It’s a river unlike any in Australia — and a fortnight ago it barely existed.

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