A new award-winning children’s book recently unearthed with a classic television twist is receiving the Hollywood treatment, just in time to help kids cope with social distancing during the very contemporary coronavirus.
The very first draft of Headline Books best-selling “Four Bears In A Box” was actually written over two decades ago by author and retired actress Dreama Denver. The “Four Bears” story is based on an original concept and accompanying pencil sketches given to Dreama by her late husband, TV icon Bob Denver, star of “Gilligan’s Island” and “Dobie Gillis.”
Dreama wrote the “Four Bears” story as a way for them to entertain their son Colin, who had been born severely autistic and was soothed by the rhymes and rhythms of classic Dr. Seuss. With their shared theater backgrounds, Bob and Dreama would read Dr. Seuss stories to him every evening, using their acting backgrounds to reach through to Colin and bring the book’s characters to life. They did the same with “Four Bears,” and Colin loved it.
Eventually, the type-written, well-worn pages of “Four Bears” had been filed away and forgotten in a dusty filing cabinet in her home office. Life moved on, Colin grew, and Bob Denver passed away in 2005. Then, late last year, a surprised Dreama came across the slightly yellowed pages and Bob’s sketches while doing some long-overdue file purging.
“I had completely forgotten about the ‘Four Bears’ story, and then, there it was. After a good cry, I sent it to my manager, who loved it, immediately got it to a publisher who also loved it, and the advance reading copies of the book very quickly started receiving awards even before the final book was published,” said Dreama, sounding somewhat astonished by the “bear-ish” turn of events.
Finally released to the public in late March, the award-winning tale of “four bears stuck at home with nothing to do” has struck a chord with many of the millions of young children and their parents who find themselves in that exact same predicament during the stay-at-home era of social distancing.
Now, the “Four Bears In A Box” are receiving the Hollywood treatment in the form of a homespun online reading of the story performed by award-winning Warner Brothers and Nickelodeon animation voice acting legend Charlie Adler, with music from Nashville singer-songwriter Delnora Reed. The video was written and produced by Los Angeles-based actor Kevin Sizemore (Woodlawn, Fear The Walking Dead, MINE 9) and his GKg Productions, a close friend of Dreama’s who also grew up in Dreama’s hometown of Princeton, where she and Colin still live.
The Four Bears video was one of the highlights of the Global Day of Play webcast on April 25. The telethon was organized to support the work of Inclusion Matters by Shane’s Inspiration. The non-profit has built a network of dozens of inclusive, sensory- and literacy-rich playgrounds throughout the world, including the United States, Mexico, Israel, Canada, Ecuador, Russia, and throughout the U.S. There are another 75 playgrounds currently in development, including in Argentina, South Africa, Armenia, the Dominican Republic and more. The playgrounds are specifically designed so that all kids can play together, those with and without disabilities.
You can view the “Four Bears In A Box” video at https://bit.ly/fourbearsbydreamadenver. Parents are encouraged to snap photos of their young readers with the book, or to act out a page in their own cartoon voices and post to their social media accounts with the hashtag #fourbearsinabox to join in the fun.
Dreama Denver says her hope is that all this time, that the “Four Bears In A Box” story “will give you the chance to touch the lives of the little ones in your life and take them on a magical journey of imagination and pure joy!”
If you’d like to support the Inclusion Matters by Shane’s Inspiration’s mission to build inclusive playgrounds, please text the word INCLUSION to 269-89 or visit http://inclusionmatters.org/donate. For more information, visit www.inclusionmatters.org.