“I eat a pear every day, and sometimes two. That’s because they are my favorite food, but I like other fresh fruits and vegetables, too. They all help me to grow and to stay healthy.” — PearBear

(April 19) The creator of PearBear, a fictitious character that stars in a series of children’s books, admits the name was pretty simple. Being a product of the Pear Bureau Northwest, PearBear was just a good rhyme.

At first, however, the bureau’s vice president of communications, Maggie André, was split on what species of bear she would illustrate and write about in The PearBear Chronicles.

A big, white polar bear was her first creation, but in the Northwest, you might have to wait around for the next ice age for that type of bear to show up. So André decided she would go with something more local.

Fittingly, Oregon and Washington are home to a brown bear — an animal that can sometimes be found nabbing a snack in pear orchards.

“Every once in a while, a shipper will send me a picture of a bear in one of their trees,” André said.

It’s a scene illustrated on the cover of André’s third work, “Upside Down Bear,” as PearBear is pictured hanging from a limb of Favorite Pear Tree, just like his friend Bat.

On the covers and in the narratives of her seven PearBear books, André has created a community. There are mice, birds, rabbits and many other animals that share adventures with PearBear.

Of course, as the name implies, the books were created to promote the consumption of fresh pears among children, those in kindergarten through about fifth grade.

However, the stories are about much more than selling a few more pears, André said.

READING, WRITING, NUTRITION

André, as the mind behind the chronicles, tours grade schools across the country each year. She reads her latest creation, each child receives a PearBear book, and she participates in a question-and-answer session after the readings.

“Those kids can ask me anything they want to ask me, and I get some real doozies like ‘how old are you, how much money do you make?’” she said.

In the sessions, she encourages reading and writing, and she talks with children about pears and other types of produce. She also asks students to learn one new word a day and to consider keeping a journal.

The books encourage the consumption of all fresh fruits and vegetables, and various illustrations that follow the stories offer educational information. For example, food guide pyramid activities or nutrition facts are included on the last few pages of most of the books.