Poetry for Kids
Ukrainian Tales and Poems
The Bad Little Bear-Cub
Translated by Dorian Rottenberg
Illustrated by V.Suteyev
A Story for Children,
Young and Old
Mrs. Bruin had a son,
One I’d wish to anyone:
Like his mother to a hair,
Every inch of him a bear.
From the heat beneath a tree
Mother Bear would hide,
And sure enough young Sonny Bear
Would huddle by her side.
He’d trip up on a root, he would.
“Poor dear,” crooned Mother Bear.
Indeed, my friends, in all the wood
No finer cub was there.
Yet Mrs. Bruin’s young sonny
Broke all the rules and laws.
One day he found some honey
And ate with dirty paws!
His mother scolded:
You mustn’t grab
Your food like that!”
But Master Bear just gobbled on
His face became all clammy,
His fur began to stick—
A good day’s work for Mammy
To clean, and smooth, and lick.
When Mum and Dad sat down to chat
He’d start a noisy squawking.
Now, ought a cub behave like that
When grown-up bears are talking?
The bear-cub, coming home one day,
Climbed first into the lair,
And that instead of giving way
To another, older bear.
The other day he stayed away
Till dark, the dreadful lad,
And came with fur all full of hay,
A sight to make one mad.
He said without a trace of shame:
“We had a lovely, lovely game.”
Says Ma: “His manners made me weep.
He roars all night, won’t let us sleep.”
He’ll drive his mother crazy.
It’s much too much to bear.
They went to see Aunt Maisie.
The same old story there:
He bit his Auntie on the knee
And shoved his cousins off a tree.
All that week his mother fretted
And her pampering regretted.
“Oh dear me, I’ve spoiled the child:
Now he’s simply running wild!”
She went and asked her husband,
(As if he really knew!)
“Our son is getting worse and worse.
Please tell me what to do.”
“He doesn’t know what’s right or wrong.
He’s robbing birds’ nests all along.
He’s always making faces,
He fights in public places!”
Bruin answered with a roar,
“Why am I to blame?
What is a bear-cub’s mother for
If she can’t make him tame?
“The rascal’s got a mother,
And she’s the one to bother.”
But soon the culprit got so bad
He raised his paw against his Dad.
Just think of it—a cub should dare
To snap and snarl at Father Bear!
The father with an angry grunt
Picked up a hefty stick.
(It seemed, his off-spring’s latest stunt
Had cut him to the quick!)
Here Mother started whimpering:
“Oh, I can’t bear the sight!
Why, it’s an outrage, honestly.
Threshing such a mite!”
While quarrels tore the family
The son grew up unmannerly.
Though odd this tale may seem to you,
I’ve often heard it said
That sometimes among children, too,
Such little bears are met.
Author: Barto A.
illustrated by Suteyev V.
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