Little Bear is a series of children's books, primarily involving the interaction of Little Bear (a small cub) and Mother Bear (Little Bear's Mother), and the yearning he has for his father who is a ship's captain and absent for long periods. The first book in the series was published in 1957, written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Initially the stories were simple, but eventually became more sophisticated in subsequent books as the plot and characters expanded.
The first four Little Bear books consist of four stories, each of which involves Little Bear and a slowly expanding cast of support characters, each named after their respective species. The Little Bear character and his immediate family display many bear-like characteristics and mannerisms, but only on occasion. They live in a culture and technology which seems to be the woodland equivalent of a Little House on the Prairie setting, but with richer items. Little Bear is depicted as friendly and adventurous with his animal friends.
The five original Little Bear books were all illustrated by Maurice Sendak. In 2010, two years before her death, Else Holmelund Minarik published a sixth Little Bear book, Little Bear and the Marco Polo, which was illustrated by Dorothy Doubleday.