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Pinehurst Elementary School in Lake View has been playing host the "Book Bear" -- a teddy making its way through 36 states this year.

"We got him from New Hampshire," said school librarian Eileen List, "and, after taking him to visit Niagara Falls, we'll send him to Louisville, Ky., the next stop on his itinerary."

Mrs. List read about the book bear on a school librarian's Internet site. As a result, Pinehurst is the only Empire State school Book Bear is visiting.

"When he visits a school we plan a host of activities around him," Mrs. List said. "His travels become a core of geography and math lessons, a spur to reading, and to writing, as we send reports and letters back to his home school.

"The visit is a way to reinforce the skills we teach in elementary school," she added.

The bear is th brainchild, of Tony Pope, librarian at the McHenry School in Rome, Ga. He packed the bear up, outfitted him with a backpack (he's collecting videotapes and a journal of his adventures) and sent him off last August.

At the end of his 36-state journey, Book Bear will have visited beaches in Hawaii, cranberry bogs in Massachusetts, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Capitol -- as well as Hamburg and the great falls at Niagara.

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