Review: Eat Like a Bear by April Pulley Sayre

eat like a bear

Eat Like a Bear by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Released October 22, 2013.

Can you eat like a bear?  It means you will wake up very hungry in early spring and have to dine on sandy plants and frozen dead bison meat.  In May, you will have dandelions and cow parsnips to munch but you will still be hungry, so you eat some ants.  You will also eat clover and fish in icy streams for a meal of trout.  In July you will catch a squirrel you dig out of the dirt and in August you will have moths to munch.  September brings berries and October pinecones.  Then it is time to sleep for the winter, full with all of the various meals you have eaten for the rest of the year.

Sayre makes this book such fun to read.  She takes scientific information about what bears eat and makes it very accessible for a preschool audience.  She uses repetitive structures throughout the book, having the bear dig and pull to find food again and again.  This doesn’t just create a friendly structure for small children, it also underlines the fact that animals are in constant search for food.  Sayre also makes the book inviting by using the second person format, asking children if they can really eat like a bear.  I suspect many will stop saying yes when the ants, squirrels and dead bison appear in the diet.

The art of Jenkins is always beautiful, but he outdoes himself with the depiction of the bear.  I shared this book aloud with my son and we both spent time lingering over the first image of the bear.  Jenkins has managed to use the torn paper as fur, not only along the edges of the bear’s body but on its body too.  The result is fur so plush that you feel like your hand should sink into the page.

A glorious look at bears, this book is a fantastic introduction to a creature, its habitat and its diet.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt & Co.

Review: The Children Who Loved Books by Peter Carnavas

children who loved books

The Children Who Loved Books by Peter Carnavas

This celebration of reading and books features a family that depends on their books for all sorts of things.  Lucy and Angus’ family is poor without a TV or a car, but they find everything they really need in books.  But there can be too much of a good thing as they find out when their little trailer home just won’t hold any more.  So they get rid of all of the books and clear out their tiny home.  But things aren’t the same.  The books that had taken up so much space also made the space between the family members smaller.  Then one day, a book falls out of Lucy’s backpack and the magic of reading happens all over again.

There is no move to hide that this book is purely about the joy of books in one’s life and the positive impact that reading together can have on a family.  Carnavas lets his message stand strong, which has positive and negative results.  A more subtle approach would have been more satisfying, yet the bold message lets you use the book with younger children.

Carnavas’ illustrations are filled with stacks and piles of bright colored books.  The family is clearly poor, but also clearly functional.  The morning after they return to reading, the family is stacked on top of one another in a tiny couch.  The quintessential image of a family coming closer together from reading.

Warm and cheerful, this Australian import will have book lovers smiling.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Kane Miller Publishing.