Tag Archive: bears


Polar Bears Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Polar Bear has lost his underwear and he can’t remember what they looked like. It’s up to readers to turn the pages and help Mouse find Polar Bear’s underwear. Could it be the striped underwear? Nope, those are Zebra’s favorite ones. The pair covered in doughnuts and treats belongs to Pig. The little flowery pair is too small for Polar Bear but fits Butterfly perfectly. Rabbit wears carrot printed underwear…on his head! One after another, there are no Polar Bear underwear. But wait, could it be that Polar Bear had them on all along?

Sure to elicit giggles, this book uses die cuts on pages to great effect. The first page shows just the underwear and little readers will delight in turning the page and seeing who they belong to. Each one makes sense with the animal on the next page, making a book that is nicely satisfying even as it is full of humor.

The illustrations are strongly done and will project well to a room of children. With plain brown paperbag backgrounds, the collage illustrations pop on the page, whether for pink pigs or black cats. The twist at the end works very nicely with the illustrations, since readers can turn back to the very first page and notice the trick carried throughout the entire book.

Funny and delightfully clever, this Japanese picture book is sure to find a happy audience in the United States. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

room for bear

Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin (In InfoSoup)

Bear visited the Duck family one spring and then never left. He fit in perfectly in many ways, except for their house which was not designed for someone Bear’s size. So Bear set off in search of a perfect space for all of them. But it was hard to find a place that worked. Places that fit Bear perfectly did not work for the Ducks. Where the Ducks were happy, Bear was not. Then Bear thought that maybe it was because HE did not fit in with the Ducks after all, so he went away to find a home just for him. The Ducks missed Bear horribly, and Bear missed the Ducks. Finally, Bear found just the right huge cave for himself and then came up with a clever Duck-sized solution that would let them all live together happily.

This picture book is about families and what makes a family. Told from the point of view of animals, it speaks beyond cultures and skin color to a feeling where differences in general are embraced and honored. At the same time, the book honors the feeling a person can have of fitting in just fine sometimes and in other situations feeling that they are an outsider. These complex feelings are caught on the page without over dramatizing them. The result is a book the embraces adoptive and blended families of all sorts without making the picture too rosy and uncomplicated.

Gavin’s illustrations are done with a whimsical sense of humor. From Bear trying to fit into a tiny and tippy Duck boat as a home to the unhappy Ducks sitting around the table forlornly missing Bear, she captures emotions clearly on the page as well as the dilemmas of differences. The illustrations are softly painted with fine ink lines that allow both the big bear and small ducks to have personality galore.

A winning read that speaks to all families and particularly adoptive and blended families. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

finding spring

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

Maurice is a little bear cub who can’t stop thinking about spring. It may be time for him to go to sleep in the warm cave with his mother, but he stays awake and sneaks out of the cave to search for signs of spring. As he heads through the forest, he meets other animals all busily preparing for the winter. They don’t have time to talk to him for long but find time to warn him that spring’s arrival will take some time. Maurice smells something new on the air and runs towards it, thinking it is spring. When a snowflake falls, he is sure it is spring arriving so he scoops up some snow to keep spring with him and heads back to his mother to sleep. When he awakes in the warmer weather though, his piece of spring has disappeared. But in the end, Maurice manages to find spring all around him.

This picture book has a very simple story with elements that children will relate to. From not wanting to go to bed to the beauty of nature, this book celebrates it all. It is a book of curiosity, adventures and making your own discoveries along the way.

What makes this book exceptional are the illustrations. Berger works in cut paper and collage, creating dioramas that have dimension and shadows. The cut paper contains fragments of words and lovely textures. I particularly love the reverse side of a letter on gray paper being the flowing water in a stream. Throughout the book there are touches like this that work beautifully visually and are artistically inspired.

A lovely new springtime read, this picture book celebrates the seasons of winter and spring side by side. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.

winnie

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker, illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss

When Harry Colebourn saw a bear cub at the train station, he immediately asked about her.  Since she was for sale, he bought her for $20 and took her aboard the train with him, naming her Winnipeg.  He was on his way to military training in Quebec and there the two of them bonded even further.  Winnie helped Harry in his veterinarian duties, caring for the military horses and searching the pockets of his uniform for treats.  Harry fed her condensed milk and she slept on the floor under his cot.  When news came that they would be leaving for England, Harry took her along.  But when they were going to head to battle in France, Harry knew he had to do something else with Winnie since she could be hurt in warfare.  So Winnie was placed in the London Zoo where she quickly made friends with the other bears.  It was there that she met one special little boy named Christopher Robin and his father, A. A. Milne.

Walker writes a warm story here.  Though they are surrounded by preparations for World War I, the book focuses on the relationship between Harry and Winnie.  Happily, Walker also shares information on how Winnie was cared for, showing the freedom that she had and the loving care she was given by Harry and the rest of the soldiers.  Just as fascinating is her time at the zoo where she was so gentle that children were allowed to ride on her back.  This was one special bear indeed.

The book’s endpages are filled with photographs of the real Harry and Winnie.  Voss’ illustrations are realistic and detailed, staying true to the photographs that readers see first.  The result is a lovely continuum from the real to the story of what happened, with no jarring differences.

A delightful and cheery story of a bear who is found by one man and then adored by many.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt & Co.

goodnight already

Goodnight, Already! by Jory John and Benji Davies

Bear is so very tired, all he wants to do is go to sleep.  But his next door neighbor, Duck, feels exactly the opposite and has never felt more awake as he reads a book on staying awake and drinks a pot of coffee.  As Bear climbs into bed and pulls up his blanket, ready to snooze, Duck comes over for a visit.  Duck offers all sorts of ideas of what they could do together, but all Bear wants to do is sleep.  Just when Bear is again about to fall asleep, Duck returns with a new idea to bake something.  But Bear once again sends him on his way.  When Duck comes in for a third time, Bear has had enough!   The evening though has time for one final ironic twist by the end of the book, one that will get readers giggling.

John captures both the very essence of being tired and wanting nothing more than to sleep and the zany energy that comes with insomnia.  It is that dynamic being thrust together in this picture book that leads to the hilarity.  It also helps that John has impeccable comic timing throughout the book, using repeating themes to really make the scenes pop.  The pace switches from one character to the next beautifully, the dozy slow of Bear and the yapping zing of Duck.

Davies’ illustrations capture the same shifts in energy and pace.  Duck’s entire home is bright yellow while Bear is surrounded by sleepy blues.  The silly additions of coffee and a book to stay awake make the situation even funnier.  The illustrations are deceptively simple, making this a very approachable book for children, one that conveys its humor right from the cover.

Perfect for kids who both love bedtime and hate it, as well as for their sleepy parents.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

bear ate your sandwich

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Released January 6, 2015.

This picture book tells the story of exactly what happened to your sandwich.  See, it started with the bear.  He was having a great warm, bright morning when he smelled berries.  He found a pickup truck filled with berries, which he munched and then fell fast asleep in the back of the truck.  When he woke up, he was riding towards a huge city.  Now he was in a new forest, but a very different one.  He climbed, he scratched, he squished his toes in mud, he investigated.  He found a park and that is where he discovered your sandwich sitting on a park bench.  He then ran off, scared by the dogs around, climbed aboard a boat and returned to his own forest.  It’s all true you see, I saw it all.  Don’t you trust me?

The merriment in this picture book is pure joy to share.  And the voice that it is written in is so very earnest and honest, willing you with their very words to really believe them.  It’s so earnest that you immediately know that this is a voice not to be trusted.  But you won’t completely understand who is talking until the very end of the story.   The timing of the humor is impeccable, the writing is wonderfully strong and lovely, evoking a forest in an urban setting and letting the bear discover it. 

The illustrations have a richness to them.  The opening scenes of the bear in the forest play with light and shadows, greens and browns, dappling and shining.  It’s all lush and green and beautiful with the black bear anchoring the beauty around him.  Along the way there are other moments, particularly the ones where the bear investigates the city and then the lingering moments of him discovering the sandwich, approaching the sandwich, longing for it.  It’s all strikingly rendered.

Lush, strong and very funny, this picture book is a delight and just as satisfying as a sandwich for a hungry bear.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Random House and Edelweiss.

sebastian and the balloon

Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead

A little boy named Sebastian is having a very boring day even though he is up on the top of the roof where he’s never supposed to be.  So he decides to head on a journey.  First, he packs everything he needs, then he heads for the hot air balloon he made from his grandmother’s afghans and quilts.  He sets off and meets a bear next to a leafless tree.  He offers the bear a pickle sandwich and the bear joins him on his journey.  Flying in the fog, they hear a loud pop and find that a bird has flown into the balloon.  They land atop a a colorful worn house where three sisters help them knit their balloon together again.  As the three elderly ladies work, they mention the time that they went over the mountain as children and found a rollercoaster.  You can guess where they all headed next!

Stead has created a quiet and lovely book here.  It is an adventure book, but somehow it is imbued with a gentleness and dreaminess.  Perhaps it is the balloon flight, the drifting and silence and quiet of that mode of transportation.  Or it could be the fog, the friendly bear, and the three grandmothers.  It all adds up to a wonderfully whimsical book that dances along dreamily.

Stead’s illustrations are always a treat.  I love that his protagonist is a little boy of color, someone who glows against the background, who is resourceful, smart and creative.  The three grandmothers, each with their own color that is also represented in their home, are drawn with a humor that is gentle and gorgeous.  The entire book sings of whimsy and imagination.

Ideal for bedtime reading, this book is sure to create dreams of hot air balloon rides and an array of friends.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

sleep tight little bear

Sleep Tight, Little Bear by Britta Teckentrup

Winter is coming and Little Bear and Mommy Bear have been getting their den ready for the cold weather.  Soon it will be time for them to hibernate for the winter and wake up again when the warmth of spring comes.  Little Bear is excited about hibernating, but before he and his mother go to sleep, he has to say goodbye to all of his friends.  Little Bear goes to each animal, wishing them a good winter and they all wish him a good sleep and promising to watch over him as he rests.  As they return to their den, the snow is starting to fall and the winds are blowing cold.  Inside their den, it is warm and cozy and Little Bear is fast asleep before he can even finish saying goodnight to his mother.

First published in Germany, Teckentrup’s picture book celebrates community and diversity without ever using those words on the page.  It is clear throughout the entire book that the bear family is beloved in the woods.  While some of the animals, like Owl, are not so friendly, the others are warmly affectionate to Little Bear.  Many of the animals speak about watching over and taking care of the bears as they hibernate.  They also speak about how different the bears are from them and sometimes briefly say what they will do in the winter.  The messages are subtle and woven into this story about animals.

The illustrations are a strong mix of textured trees and animals and more simple elements that allow the textures to stand out on the page.  One of the first pages in the book shows the entire forest as well as the animals that the bears will be visiting before they hibernate.  It’s almost a map to the story and offer a peek into what will come.

A book about a friendly community of animals, this picture book is perfect for reading on chilly autumn evenings and ideal for a bedtime read.  It will also be a welcome addition to seasonal story times and units on hibernation.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from NorthSouth and NetGalley.

i know a bear

I Know a Bear by Mariana Ruiz Johnson

A little girl gets to know a bear who comes from somewhere that he calls The Land of Bears.  Breakfasts there are sweet as honey, the land is vast, and the rivers are lovely for swimming.  Even the naps are better there, they go on for months.  But he can never return there, since he is in a zoo.  So the little girl has an idea, something that will let him feel a connection with the wilderness and something that she can set free.  It’s a powerful idea too.

Johnson tells this story in very short sentences, which one might think would be terse but instead feel slow and Zen-like.  It is a book about a girl who is forging her own connections with animals, making her own decisions too.  There are no adults in the story, just one little girl and one huge hairy bear.  It is a book about small choices making a big difference in the world.  It is simple and luminous.

Johnson’s illustrations have a wonderful light touch to them.  The pages with the huge bear can be dark and filled with fur, but then the book opens to a new page filled with white and lightness.  They are studies in contrast but also create a book that is a joy to read through with changes of feel from one page to the next.

An empowering story about one little girl and her connection with one big bear and the beauty of freedom.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Schwartz & Wade.

three bears in a boat

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

The co-creator of the Ladybug Girl series returns with a completely different type of book.  It is the story of three little bears who accidentally break their mother’s favorite blue seashell, so they set off to find her a new one.  Along the way they meet other bears on boats but only one can give them any advice about finding a blue seashell, they need to look for a hat-shaped island and then look in the right place.  As they travel, the bears look and look for a blue seashell, but don’t find one.  Once they give up hope, they start to argue and as they fight a storm blows up around them.  They may be forced to return home to Mama empty handed, and after all, their mother is a bear!

Soman has created an exceptional picture book.  It hearkens back to many classic picture books, particularly ones by Maurice Sendak like Where the Wild Things Are and the Little Bear series.  It also has ties to the three bears, Beatrix Potter and even Melville.  But best of all, it reads like it is a classic already, one that will be shared with children for years, and very rightly so.  The story arc is brilliantly crafted, moving the story forward and also coming full circle, returning the bears in time for a warm supper with Mama.  It is so strongly built that there is a sense of coming home when reading the story, but also one of surprise and delight at discovering it.

Soman’s art is extraordinary:  from the faces of the little bears that show every emotion clearly despite the fur to the landscapes that are like opening a window to the ocean.  There are page turns where you simply sit for a moment and linger, looking at the new vista before you until you are ready to read the words on the page. 

A top Caldecott contender, this picture book feels like returning home to Mama after a long trip at sea.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.

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