Tag: bears

Review: Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick

Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (InfoSoup)

Told by the great-granddaughter of Captain Harry Colebourn, this is the true story of the real bear who inspired Winnie-the Pooh. The book takes the format of a mother telling a bedtime story to her young son. It is the story of his great-great-grandfather, after whom he was named. Harry was a veterinarian sent from his home in Winnipeg to care for the soldier’s horses in World War I. On the train in Canada, he saw a little bear cub at a station and purchased the bear, even though he was headed into war. Winnie soon charmed all of the soldiers and got her own post to climb in the tent city. Winnie stayed with Harry when they were posted in England, but he had to make a difficult decision and put her in The London Zoo when he was headed to the war zone. It was at The London Zoo that a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne met Winnie and inspired his father to write the beloved stories of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Lindsay Mattick has shared the story of her great-grandfather in different formats through the years, including a radio documentary and an exhibition. In this very personal story, she shows real pride in the great heart that her grandfather showed by seeing something special in a small bear cub. It is clear that it is his dedication and care for Winnie that helped her become the loving and approachable bear that could inspire a series of stories. Mattick’s writing contains just the right amount of detail to keep children fascinated.

Blackall is an incredible illustrator and here she shows a beautiful touch for recreating historical scenes. From the expanse of Canada to the big city of London, she offers just enough visual detail to anchor the scenes in those distinct places. She also shows again and again the bond between Harry and Winnie, from sleeping together to sharing food. The historical photos at the end of the book add to the story, letting readers see the real Winnie.

A wonderful read, this book is an inspiring look at what small choices in our lives can lead to if we only follow our hearts. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Goodnight, Grizzle Grump! by Aaron Blecha

Goodnight Grizzle Grump by Aaron Blecha

Goodnight, Grizzle Grump! by Aaron Blecha

Grizzle Grump is a huge bear who is ready to hibernate for the winter, but he has to find the right quiet place to do that. He’s so big that even his yawns can blow the other animals around. He tries to sleep in the trees first, going through an elaborate ritual of scratches, wiggles and flopping. Then he is asleep and snoring until the noises of the woodpeckers wake him up. He heads off to find another spot. But when he sleeps near the stream, the beavers are too loud. The gloomy swamp seems like a good choice until the frogs start to croak. He finally finds a snowy cave, far from everyone else. Then it is his turn to make huge snoring noises that drive everyone else away.

Blecha has created a great book to share aloud with a group. The humor is flawlessly presented in a way that makes it effortless to share. The ritual that Grizzle Grump goes through each time will have children giggling and is also something that you can get the audience to participate in. Inventive story time librarians will have children help make the noises of the woods and swamp with hands and feet.

The illustrations add to the humor from the bucktoothed squirrel who watches it all to the frenzied reaction of the bear every time he is woken once again. The wild energy of the story line is reflected in the illustrations with the noises themselves part of the art. Even the proportions of the huge bear and his little blanket and pillow add to the humor.

A glorious read aloud for autumn months or any bedtime, this picture book is a silly and cheery delight. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Review: How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder

How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder

How to Share with a Bear by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

Thomas made a pillow cave on a cold day. But when he went to get a flashlight to read by, he noticed that something big had taken over the cave. Something with two brown eyes looked back at him when he looked inside. It was a bear! To get the bear out of his cave, Thomas laid a trail of blueberries down the stairs and sure enough, the bear followed eating them up. Thomas ran to get books to read in his cave, but he was too late and the bear had already returned. He tricked the bear with a back-scratching stick and then got inside the cave, but stray bear fuzz had him sneezing and running for a tissue. In the meantime, the bear returned. Thomas tricked the bear again and again into leaving the cave, but when the bear returned finally and Thomas was already in the cave, something happened. The bear started to cry, revealing himself to be Thomas’ younger brother. There was only one thing to do!

Pinder has created a book sparkling with creativity. His young protagonist who is battling the invasive brother bear comes up with clever ways again and again to trick the bear into leaving the cave. Pinder keeps each of the tricks appropriate for both a bear and a little boy, keeping the audience entirely fooled until his reveal. I was completely convinced of this being a little bear and expected the book to end with a teddy bear of some kind. It was a delight to discover a different twist that speaks to how to be a good older sibling.

The illustrations from Graegin are key to keeping the audience convinced of the bear being real. She subtle makes sure that the face is not shown until that moment of reveal. The book glows with a yellow warmth that invites curling up under a blanket or in your own pillow cave to read it.

A great pick for bear story times, this picture book shows how hard sharing can be. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Review: Welcome Home, Bear by Il Sung Na

Welcome Home Bear by Il Sung Na

Welcome Home, Bear: A Book of Animal Habitats by Il Sung Na (InfoSoup)

Bear has been waking up to the same old forest and blue sky day after day, so he decides that he may need to find a new home. He sets off first to climb up a tree to see Bird’s home, but it was too high. Mole’s underground tunnels were stuffy and full of dirt. Goat’s cliff was too dizzying. Octopus’ underwater home was too deep. Polar Bear’s icy home was too cold. Camel’s desert was too hot on his paws. There were more that were too wet and too muddy. Bear was very sad. Where could he live that was just right for him?

Told in humorous and short lines, this picture book explore animal habitats in a lighthearted way. Bear’s exploration shows the differences in the needs of the animals in a subtle way, focusing more on Bear’s reaction to the places in the world. Bear is a great protagonist for this, since readers know from the very first page where he should be living and how different it is from the many places he visits.

Bear’s discomfort with each new habitat is delightfully illustrated to create humorous moments. From being squirted by a surprised octopus to Bear’s evident hatred of deep mud, the book is fast-paced and funny. The illustrations though are far from just being silly. They are lovely too. The habitats are beautifully depicted from the golden desert sand to the lushness of the rain forest. Each page and the animals themselves are textured and have a depth of color that is gorgeous. The final page of the dejected Bear heading back home with his shadow long on the ground is particularly lovely.

A lighthearted and richly illustrated look at animals and their habitats all through the eyes of one adventurous bear. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Knopf Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss.

Review: Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson

Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson

Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson (InfoSoup)

Bear doesn’t want to be a bear anymore. He’s sick of sleeping during the winter, his fur is too hot in the summer, and there are all of those angry bees. Then Bear notices a family of ducks walking along and decides that he could be a duck instead! So he joins their line and starts acting like a duck. But when the adult duck notices Bear in the line of ducklings, he gets sent away. Bear does get a book on how to be the perfect duck. So he starts to work on it. The first step is building a nest and sitting on an egg. But Bear loses his egg in the twigs. Second step is swimming, but Bear splashes too much. The third step is flying, ouch! Bear is thoroughly discouraged and climbs up a tree to hide. From there, he starts to show both himself and Duck the good things about being a bear after all.

This is Hudson’s first book. It has a great freshness to it and an exceptionally light touch. The humor in the book feels unforced and natural. In the middle of the book there is a change to the format focusing on the rules of being a duck, which creates its own pacing and energy. The ending feels organic and real as both Duck and Bear together discover the joy of climbing trees and sharing a treat with a new friend.

Hudson’s illustrations are ink and watercolor which combine into friendly images of flowering meadows, furry bears and swimming ducks. They have the fine details of ink and then the washes of watercolor paint. Hudson enjoys the visual humor of Bear in the line of ducklings and then other times creates touching moments where you can see the characters forming new bonds.

This is the second picture book about bears and ducks trying to live together that has been released this year. Pair it with Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin for a double duck and bear treat. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

Review: Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

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.

Review: Room for Bear by Ciara Gavin

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.