Some of the stories in the Bible seem too unbelievable. It's these stories that cause many people, young and old, to question the truth of God's word.
The story of Jonah is one of those stories. Everything seems very plausible until he gets swallowed by a whale. That seems to be the moment where the doubts take over. It's interesting to note, though, that on two separate occasions, Jesus points to Jonah's story as evidence for His own (Matthew 12 and 16).
So if the mystery of Jesus' story is the one we want our kids to know and believe, maybe we need to understand the mystery of the story that He used to point to His truth.
With that in mind, we came up with the story of Junior Bear and the Banana-nites of Nanerville. This story actually happened by accident as we were working on another one and our youngest daughter kept shouting that we needed to use monkeys in it. I jokingly responded with, "What am I going to call them? The Banana-nites?" And in that moment, this story came to life.
For anyone who has read the book of Jonah, his journey is an interesting one, but it is the ending that leaves us without an answer as it seems to just end. But even in the open ending, there is a concrete lesson for all us to understand, and I believe that Junior Bear helps us discover it. We hope you enjoy this story, but we hope more that it will help you find more of God's heart for you and for those around you.
JUNIOR BEAR AND THE BANANA-NITES OF NANERVILLE
Junior Bear woke up one morning with his whole day planned. First he was going to eat breakfast. Then he was going to play outside all day. It sounded like the perfect day.
That’s when he heard his father’s voice.
“Good morning, Junior Bear,” Mr. Bear said as he came into the room.
“Good morning, Dad,” Junior replied. “What’s up?”
“I need you to do something for me today,” Mr. Bear continued. “I need you to go to Nanerville.”
“Nanerville?” Junior asked. “That is not in your forest. I learned in school that it is far to the east of us. Why do you want me to go there?”
Junior knew who lived in Nanerville: the Banana-nites. The only thing Junior knew about the Banana-nites was that they were monkeys who were not nice to each other.
Mr. Bear looked at his son. “I know how they treat each other over there, and I want them to change. I want them to live like we do in our forest. But they won’t know how to do that, unless someone goes to tell them; and I want you to do that.”
“But I had my day all planned,” Junior complained. He really didn’t want to go.
“I know you did,” Mr. Bear said. “But I really need you to do this.”
With that, Mr. Bear gave his son a hug and walk out of the room.
As soon as he was gone, Junior started to complain.
“I don’t want to go to Nanerville. The Banana-nites are nice at all. Why do I need to go? Well, I won’t go. I know what my dad said, and I know I should listen to him, but I am not going. I won’t even go near that place. I’ll go anywhere but there. But how am I going to get out of here without my dad seeing me?”
That’s when Junior had an idea and he grabbed his bag.
Sneaking out of his house, he ran along the trail going west. He ran for as long as he could before he had to catch his breath. Then he ran some more.
He ran for so long that soon he saw the Joppish River. Since he was thirsty, he jumped right in to cool off. As he splashed, he heard voices.
Looking around he saw a log raft with a sail. On it were two ferrets who seemed to be arguing.
“Hello,” Junior called out as he waved at them.
Noticing the little cub, the ferrets steered their raft to the shore.
“Hello. My name is Pierre, and this is my brother, Philip,” the taller ferret said. “And who are you?”
“I am Junior. Where are you going?”
“We are heading to Shishrat Island to search for treasure,” Philip said.
“Can I come with you?” Junior asked eager to get on the raft.
“Sure,” the ferrets said together.
Junior climbed on board, and off they went.
Sailing on the river was relaxing for Junior; and since he was tired from all his running, he rested and soon fell asleep.
Not long later, the clouds grew dark.
“A storm is coming,” Philip yelled loudly.
Pierre looked up and saw how quickly it was forming. Soon the thunder boomed, the lightning cracked, and the rain poured down.
With all the rain, the once calm river became a fast torrent of water. The two ferrets tried to steer the raft, but couldn’t. They quickly became scared.
“I have never seen it this bad,” Pierre shouted to be heard.
“Me neither,” Philip shouted back.
Pierre looked to the back of the raft and saw their passenger sleeping.
“How can he sleep? Wake him up," he told Philip.
Carefully, Philip went over to Junior, and shook him awake.
Getting up, Junior saw the storm and knew what was happening.
He looked at the sailors.
“My name is Junior Bear,” he said. “And this is my father’s forest. He told me to do something, but I ran away from him, and now he has sent this storm to stop me.”
“What do we do?” Pierre asked.
“Throw me into the river. It’s the only way the storm will stop,” Junior replied.
“Throw you into the river?” Philip asked shocked. “Are you crazy?”
“It’s the only way,” Junior shouted over the noise of the storm.
The two sailors looked at each other, shook their heads in agreement, and tried to steer the raft.
Quickly they realized they could not steer in the rushing water.
“You have to do it,” Junior said again.
The two sailors looked at each other and knew what they had no choice.
They grabbed Junior, brought him to the edge of the raft, and threw him into the river.
As soon as they heard the splash, the storm stopped. As quickly as it had come, the storm disappeared.
Amazed the two ferrets looked back to see if they could rescue Junior.
They spotted him swimming in the water, but the water started to spin.
“Whirlpool!” the brothers shouted together.
Junior didn’t have time to swim for shore as the whirlpool sucked him in and he disappeared under the water. Being pulled by the current, Junior couldn’t do anything but go along with it. Finally, when he didn’t think he could hold his breath any longer, he got sucked into an underground cave.
The cave was dark, wet, and smelled bad, but it had a rock shelf that Junior could fit on to get out of the water. Once he caught his breath, Junior did his best to feel around where he was. He found the edge of the rock shelf and knew where he could stay to be safe. Along the back side, he only felt a rock wall with a small hole where a trickle of water was coming in. Junior figured it was the water that flowed down from the mountain.
Junior knew that he was stuck. And since no one knew where he was, he had no hope of being rescued either.
Sitting down, he began to cry. He missed his friends. He missed his dad. He was sorry that he ran away and didn’t listen to what his father wanted him to do.
That’s when he hoped his father would hear his voice.
“Dad, it’s me, Junior Bear,” he said. “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. I am sorry I didn’t trust you. I know you love all the animals, even the ones that don’t live in your forest. I promise that if I get out of here, I will go to Nanerville and do what you asked me to do.”
Just as he finished saying that, he heard a rumbling noise. He thought maybe the storm had come back, but then realized that it was coming from behind him. It was the rain water from the mountain heading for the cave.
He barely had time to brace himself before the water rushed through the hole. It hit him so hard that it pushed him right out of the cave and across the river to the far shoreline.
As he stood to his feet, Junior was thankful that he was out of there. He smiled, took a deep breath, and walked toward the east.
It took him a long time, but as he came over a hill top, he saw it: Nanerville. Wasting no time, Junior headed straight into the city.
There were so many Banana-nites, all of them throwing banana peels on the ground. Junior looked down the street in time to see one Banana-nite pull a banana from his holster and stick it into another monkey’s ear. All those around pointed and yelled out, “Nanner! Nanner! Nanner!” Junior recognized the familiar chant from his lessons in school.
With determination, Junior took a step and began to shout to the crowd, but as he put his foot down, he slipped on a peel. Landing on his back, Junior could now hear the laughter coming at him.
“Nanner! Nanner! Nanner!”
“Nanner! Nanner! Nanner!”
“This place is a mess,” he said to himself. He was just about to get up to leave when he remembered his mission.
Taking a breath, he looked at Banana-nites.
“You need to stop living like this!” he shouted. The monkeys all seemed to freeze where they were. Tilting their heads a bit, they looked at the stranger.
“My name is Junior Bear. And my father, who watches over his forest and cares for you, wants you to know that you can live differently.”
Junior watched and waited as everything was quiet. Then a Banana-nite walked up to him. Looking at Junior Bear, he reached to his holster and pulled out his banana and pointed it at him. Junior gulped, expecting to feel banana goo in his ear, but instead heard it plop on the ground.
“We do need to live differently,” the Banana-nite said.
Soon, Junior heard plopping all around him as all the other monkeys dropped their bananas too.
Word about the strange messenger traveled fast through Nanerville, and soon the king gorilla heard the news. He too put down his bananas. Standing on the steps of his home, the king called out to the city.
“We will follow this Mr. Bear, because he cared for us and sent us his messenger so that we too can know how to live better.”
All the monkeys of Nanerville cheered.
Junior didn’t stay long enough to celebrate with them. He went home.
When he got there, he sat on his bed tired. That’s when he heard his father’s voice, again.
“Junior, can I come in?”
“I guess so,” Junior replied, but it was clear that he wasn't happy.
“What’s the matter?” Mr. Bear asked as he sat on the bed.
“Why did you send me to Nanerville?” Junior complained. “I know that you love all the animals, even those not in your forest. So why didn’t you just go and tell them yourself?”
Mr. Bear put his paw around his son.
“Junior, you know my heart and you know that I love all the animals. But I sent you there because I wanted you to love all the animals too. I wanted you to have a heart that cared for them like I do.”
That was a hard thing to hear for Junior. He thought he did love the animals like his dad did. But as he thought about it, he realized that his love stayed within the forest, while his dad’s went beyond it.
Going to bed that night, Junior knew that if he wanted to be like his dad, he would need to love like him. And that meant even loving those outside of the forest.
Copyright Brad Klassen October 16, 2018
Understanding the Bible is hard for adults, never mind for children.
All too often, we ignore certain Bible stories ourselves because they make us feel uncomfortable.
As Christian parents, we have a job to do; a calling that God has placed on each of us: To bring our little ones to Him. But how do we do that if we don’t spend time in His word first? How can we expect them to grab onto the Bible if we don’t digest ourselves?
At The Unforgettable Adventures of Junior Bear, we want to equip you as parents to do what God has called you to do. But it starts with you. We want to encourage you in your faith journey so that you can raise your kids to know God and His word.
We encourage you to sit in the Bible for yourselves.
The story of Junior Bear and Eunice Robinson is actually not for the kiddos. It's a story that tells why we write Junior Bear stories. It’s for you as the adult. Feel free to read it to them if you would like, but as you do, we hope that you are encouraged by it.
So, after all of that, can I tell you a Junior Bear story?
Junior Bear and Eunice Robinson
Junior Bear woke up to the sound of the rain falling outside. This made him smile because rain meant puddles. And he loved puddles.
As he was getting ready to go outside, he heard his father’s voice.
“Good morning, Junior,” Mr. Bear said as he came into the room and sat on the bed. “I have an idea.”
“Morning, Dad,” Junior replied. “What is it?”
“Well, I was wondering if you wanted to go outside with me. There is someone I would like you to meet.”
“That sounds great to me,” Junior said. “But do you think I could jump in the puddles?”
Mr. Bear laughed. “Yes Junior, you can jump in the puddles.”
Once outside, they saw that the rain had stopped. Junior found the biggest puddle he could see and jumped right in. After a bit of splashing, he noticed there were worms in the water. As he looked closer, he heard a chirping noise coming closer.
“Hello, Eunice,” Mr. Bear said as he walked up.
Junior looked up and noticed a robin landing beside the puddle.
“Hello, Mr. Bear,” the robin called back. “It is so good to see you.”
“It is always good to see you,” Mr. Bear responded. “I want you to meet my son, Junior Bear. Junior Bear, this is Mrs. Robinson.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Robinson,” Junior said.
“And you too, Junior Bear,” Mrs. Robinson replied.
“Has your egg hatched yet?” Mr. Bear asked with curiosity.
“Oh yes. Two days ago. One little mouth to feed,” she answered, smiling as she looked up to her nest.
Junior’s eyes followed her gaze to the tree nearby. He noticed the nest resting safely on a branch and saw one little beak sticking up just above it.
“I named him Timothy,” Mrs. Robinson said with pride in her voice.
“I like that name,” Junior said.
“Well, I would love to stay and visit,” Mrs. Robinson said, “but it’s feeding time.”
Junior watched her as she poked her beak into the puddle, grabbed a worm, and swallowed it down. He was very thankful that he did not have to eat worms.
After eating the worm, Mrs. Robinson flew off to the nest. That’s when Junior really got grossed out.
He watched as Mrs. Robinson seemed to be choking, but was actually coughing up the worm she just ate. Then, she leaned over and let it fall into Timothy’s open beak.
“Eww,” Junior said as his nose squished into his face. “That’s gross.”
“That’s what she needs to do to feed her baby,” Mr. Bear replied.
“Why can’t Timothy just eat the worm himself?” Junior asked.
“Because it is too big for him, it is difficult for him to digest. He is not ready to handle it yet. She needs to break it into smaller pieces and digest it first, and then she can help him digest it, too.”
“Where did Mrs. Robinson learn to do that?” Junior had all kinds of questions.
“I have known Eunice her whole life,” Mr. Bear answered. “When she was a baby bird, Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, fed her the same way. They know that their little ones need help to digest what they take in. It may look weird to us, but it’s the parents’ job to take care of the little ones. They eat it first, then feed it to the birdies in the nest.”
“Will she always have to feed him this way?”
“Not at all. Soon Timothy will be strong enough to eat bigger pieces, and eventually, he will find his own food,” Mr. Bear answered.
As he listened to his dad, Junior watched Mrs. Robinson. He began to see how what she was doing was a good thing. She was feeding her son only what she had eaten and digested first.
“I think I understand what you are telling me, Dad,” Junior said, still watching his new friend.
“What’s that?” Mr. Bear asked.
“It’s like how you teach me. You know so much more than I do because you have kind of eaten it first. Then, because you understand what I need, you feed it to me in a way that I can understand it.”
Giving his dad a big bear hug, Junior looked up at him.
“How about you and I go find something to eat?” Mr. Bear asked as he held is son.
“No thanks, Dad,” Junior replied. “After seeing that, I may not be hungry for a while.”
Laughing, the two of them turned and walked back home together, but Junior would never forget the lesson he learned from Mrs. Robinson’s love for her son.
Copyright Brad Klassen September 30, 2018
My heart's desire is to bring God's word to life for children and families. It all started when I was asked to teach the 3 and 4 year old kids in my church, and the first story they gave me to teach was Genesis 22, Abraham offering Isaac on the altar. I couldn't help but wonder how I was going to teach such a big story to little kids. That's when I prayed about and God gave me a picture of a bear cub in the forest, and The Unforgettable Adventures of Junior Bear was born. Of course we didn't start where we are now; it has been a long journey. But along the way, God's word has come to life for our family and for the children we teach. We wanted to share with you the story where it all began. It is a bit different than the original, but as it has grown, it has gotten deeper. We hope you enjoy it, and, more importantly, that it points you to God's word so that it can come to life for you.
The Promise - By Brad Klassen
Junior Bear was excited when he woke up. It was his birthday. He had been waiting for a long time for today because it was the day he would get his promised birthday gift from his dad: a wooden dump truck. He had asked for it almost a month ago and his dad promised that he would make him one; and his dad never breaks his promises.
Junior jumped out of bed, quickly got ready and headed out of his room to find his dad.
“Good morning Birthday Bear,” Mr. Bear said cheerily as Junior stepped into the kitchen.
“Thanks, Dad,” Junior said, smiling as he sat at the table.
He could smell what his dad was making for breakfast: pancakes with fresh berries from the forest, all covered in homemade maple syrup. It was Junior’s favorite.
After breakfast, Mr. Bear reached under the table.
“Happy birthday, Junior,” he said handing him a present.
Junior could hardly contain his excitement as he took it, even though he knew what it was.
He ripped off the wrapping paper, opened the box, and looked inside.
His eyes grew big as he pulled out the most beautiful dump truck he had ever seen.
“Thanks, Dad!” he exclaimed, not even taking his eyes off his new gift. “It’s perfect.”
“You’re welcome,” Mr. Bear replied as he smiled proudly at his son.
Before he ran off to play with his gift, Junior gave his dad a bear hug.
For the next few days, all Junior did was play with his dump truck. All his other toys seemed boring now. Every time he played with it, it was like he had new joy in his heart. The best part was that he had asked for it, his dad had promised it, and now here it was. His dad was so good.
One day, a while later, as Junior was playing with his truck, Mr. Bear came by.
“Junior, I have an idea,” he said.
“What’s that, Dad?”
“How about you and I take a walk into the forest and go camping together? I know of the perfect spot. And yes, I want you to bring your dump truck.”
“That sounds great,” Junior said.
Early the next morning, Junior woke up and got ready to go. When he looked outside, he noticed that everything was wet and figured it had rained in the night, but he really wanted to go, so he grabbed his truck and the two headed out together.
Walking in the forest with his dad was Junior’s favourite thing to do. He would listen to his dad tell stories and teach him things about the forest.
As they were talking, Junior had a thought.
“Dad,” he said. “I noticed that when we packed we brought our food and our flint to make a spark, but we didn’t bring any fire starter. Since everything is wet, what are we going to use?”
“Something will be provided,” Mr. Bear replied.
After hiking for a while, Junior could see the spot where they were headed to. It was a beautiful hill, with lots of space.
Mr. Bear chose a great place to set up camp.
“Let’s go find some rocks to make a fire pit area and start a fire,” Mr. Bear suggested. “It’s getting a little chilly out here.”
Working together they found some rocks and placed them in a circle.
As Junior was about to put some sticks in the middle of the pit, he heard his father’s voice.
“Junior Bear, I need you to do something.”
Junior looked up to his dad.
“I need you to use your dump truck as the fire starter.”
Junior’s eyes grew big again, but not with excitement.
“What do you mean I need to use my dump truck?” he asked in shock.
“The forest is wet we have no dry kindling,” Mr. Bear said. “Your dump truck is the driest wood we have.”
Junior couldn’t believe what his dad was asking of him. This was his dump truck. The one gift he had asked for. The one gift his dad had promised him. The one gift his dad had given him.
His thoughts raced. He didn’t know what to think.
But then a new thought came to him. He thought of his dad and how he had always been good, he had never lied, he always kept his promises, and he could always be trusted.
Junior was nervous. He was even scared.
He took a hold of his gift and laid it in the middle of the stones.
With shaky paws, and a trusting heart, Junior grabbed the flint.
Just as he was about to make a spark, Mr. Bear called out.
“Don’t do it,” Mr. Bear said.
Junior sat on the ground beside the stones and took a deep breath as tears ran down his cheeks.
“Don’t do it,” Mr. Bear said again.
“Why did you ask me to do that?” Junior asked, still shaking a bit.
“I wanted to know something,” Mr. Bear said. “I wanted to know that you trusted me more than you loved your gift. Now I know you do.”
Junior climbed into his dad’s lap.
“And I always will,” he said as his dad wrapped his arms around him.
“Junior Bear,” Mr. Bear whispered. “Because you have done this and not withheld your favourite gift, I have something for you.”
Junior looked to see where his dad was pointing. Wiping the tears from his eyes he noticed something underneath a nearby brush. As he looked closer he saw it was a dump truck, but it was bigger than his other one. Much bigger.
Junior ran over and pulled it out.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“This is the dump truck I always promised you,” Mr. Bear replied. “I’ve always had this one in mind as my promise to you.”
“How did it get here?”
“My son,” Mr. Bear said quietly. “I had this trip planned before you even asked for a truck."
Junior couldn’t believe it. His dad’s promise was so much bigger than he could have imagined.
Giving his dad a bear hug, he knew that his dad was always good and could always be trusted.
As they sat together, the two were so close that Junior could hear his father’s heartbeat, and he knew that he was loved.
Copyright Brad Klassen September 8, 2018
Thank you for reading The Promise. If you enjoyed the story, please leave a comment below. Sign up for our email list to find our more about when our first illustrated book, The Greatest Gift, will be available for purchase, and receive a free copy of our encouragement to parents, 17 Ways to Grow Your Child's Love for Jesus.
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Brad in 2 Sentences:
I love to write and teach people of all ages about Jesus. If I can tell a story and tell you about Jesus at the same time, even better!