“Chattering lemmings spin a shallow tale of friendship with a bear.”
The lemmings are a distinguished group with particular rules that must be followed. With all of their events and activities, Bertie just needs a bit of peace and quiet . . . so he climbs up to go outside, where he comes face to face with a bear. The two become instant friends as Bertie realizes he enjoys Bear’s favorite activities (which happen to break Lemming rules). But when all of the lemmings spill out of the ground, they don’t think bear is quite up to snuff and decide to take a vacation. Meanwhile, Bertie and Bear are reading A Short History of Lemmings, which states that lemmings, when migrating, sometimes try and swim too far and drown. Bear and Bertie race to the water and save the lemming crew just in time, earning Bear a spot in their distinguished society and displaying the lesson that you don’t have to be the same to have worth. The illustrations show each hair on the animals and their beady eyes, capturing an eccentric feel to match the clever, yet excessive captions of the chattery lemmings. The storyline, though full of potential and style, feels pedantic and long, ultimately lacking development and depth in Bertie and Bear’s instantaneous friendship.
In a society of lemmings, can a bear ever belong?
The Society of Distinguished Lemmings aims to be distinguished in abosultely everything. It takes an awful lot of rules to be so distinguished, including: no rolling around, no climbing about, and certainly no splashing in the mud! But Bertie has had quite enough of the society and all its rules. After venturing outside, Bertie discovers a bear, who is very unlike a lemming. With the bear’s help, Bertie learns that prancing about in the wild is quite a lot of fun! But when the other lemmings find out about the bear, they decide everything about him will have to change if he’s ever to fit in. Will the Society ever accept Bertie’s new friend, or is the bear simply too big and clumsy of a creature to be distinguished?
This hilarious tale features valuable themes of finding new friends, challenging peers, and questioning the rules. Readers will return to the story again and again to discover the quirks of every distinguished lemming while also learning about the importance of staying true to yourself amidst pressure to conform.
Bertie had to go outside when he was feeling overwhelmed and surrounded by noise. What do you do to feel better when you feel overwhelmed? Does going outside like Bertie help you calm down?
The lemmings have a lot of little comments to say about everything going on around them. As you read through their speech bubbles, did you find any comments that were particularly clever or funny? What would your reaction be if you were a lemming who came outside to find a bear?
Julie Colombet began drawing and painting at an early age. She studied at Chaumont, France, where she discovered children’s illustrations-a universe and language that fascinated her. She has a great affection for creating characters and is the author of a number of French children’s books.
“It’s a relief to find a story about lemmings with a happy ending . . . Many pages are nearly filled with lemming word balloons, as in a comic book . . . Even the most rule-bound reader will be cheered up by these stodgy lemmings.”