Tag: bears

Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung Na

Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung Na

Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung Na (9780399551550, Amazon, GoodReads)

This is another beautiful picture book for the smallest of children from this author/illustrator. Bird is new to the forest and hoping to make a friend. He spots Bear but can’t quite get up the courage to speak with him. Suddenly though, he sees that Bear has a friend already: a red balloon. Bear plays all day with Balloon, even watching the sunset together. Then one day, a wind gust carries Balloon up into the sky. Bird who has been watching the entire time, tries to rescue Balloon but it’s too late. Balloon pops. Over the shreds of the balloon, Bird and Bear finally meet and soon they have become real friends.

This picture book looks at the pressures of trying to make a new friend, the shyness that naturally arises during that time, and how to move beyond it. The use of a balloon as the other friend is very clever, allowing Bear to have a close friend of sorts but also allowing even the youngest child to realize that Bird would always have made a much more fun and compelling friend from the start.

The illustrations are playful and light. Done on white backgrounds, the bright colors shine on the page. The forest is filled with purples, blues and greens while the sunset emerges with yellows and reds. Still, the illustrations are simple and friendly. Bear is round and cuddly while Bird is a burst of red color and quiet inquisitiveness.

The complications of new friendship have never been lovelier. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith (9781626725362, Amazon, GoodReads)

On a sunny day, all of the creatures are having a perfect day. Cat can feel the sun on her back as she walks in the daffodils. Dog is sitting in the cool water in his wading pool. Bert, a little boy, fills the birdfeeder and Chickadee enjoys the seeds. Down below, Squirrel is trying to reach the birdfeeder and Bert gives him corn to enjoy. Everyone is having a perfect day. Until Bear arrives.

This book is incredibly simple and exceedingly perfect itself. Smith uses only a few short sentences to tell the story. Repetition is used to keep the book focused and also to make it nicely accessible to even the smallest children. There is a lovely quiet to the book, a joy in the simple and everyday that then becomes something surprising and entirely unusual in the end.

I love that the cover has the bear on it, foreshadowing the twist for little children. The illustrations are done in mixed media that is deeply textured and warm. One can almost pet the cat on the page, feel the cool water in the pool, and run fingers over the cob of corn. It adds to the simple delights of the book immensely.

Perfection to share with toddlers and preschoolers, expect this one to become a favorite. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Bear Likes Jam by Ciara Gavin

bear-likes-jam-by-ciara-gavin

Bear Likes Jam by Ciara Gavin

Released February 14, 2017.

This is the third book in the sweet series about a bear that lives with a flock of ducks. Bear discovers his love of jam and forgot to share it with the ducklings. He ate it late at night and during the day. Mama Duck worried that Bear wasn’t eating a balanced diet, even though Bear proved that he could balance very well. So she started trying to feed Bear vegetables at dinner with no jam. Bear refused to even taste them and went to bed hungry. Breakfast was oatmeal with no jam in sight. Dinner came around with no jam either. But then the ducks showed Bear a new game! It was a game that got him eating vegetables without even noticing and then he was a happy bear because he could also have a jar or two of jam a day along with the ducks.

Throughout this series, Gavin has played off of the fact that Bear has unique needs just because he’s a bear compared to all of the other ducks in the family. The last book was about hibernating and this one is about delicious foods. Bear is a wonderful character who just is who he is. His love of jam suits his character perfectly and once again the ducks band together to create a solution to help Bear be healthier and yet still be himself too.

The art has delicate lines, the ducklings tiny compared to the mountainous bear. The watercolors add sweep across some pages, but most of the pages use white as a background. Small details add to the appeal with flowered pillows on seats to get little ducklings high enough and ducklings merrily munching on fruits and vegetables.

A book that addresses healthy eating with a sense of balance and plenty of sweetness. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Edelweiss and Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton

Introducing Teddy by Jessica Walton, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson

Starting as a Kickstarter project, this picture book features Thomas the teddy and Errol who are best friends. They do everything together, riding bikes, playing in the garden, and eating in the tree house. But one day, Thomas doesn’t feel like playing. Even a visit to the park won’t cheer him up. When Errol asks what is wrong, Teddy says that he is worried that if he tells Errol that Errol won’t want to be his friend any more. After Errol reassures him, Teddy admits that he has always felt in his heart that he is a girl teddy, not a boy teddy. When the two meet Ava, she demonstrates that girls can be anything they want, including inventing robots and wearing their hair without a bow. It’s a gentle look at gender identity.

This is Walton’s first picture book and it is inspired by her father’s transition from male to female. In the picture book, she makes sure to keep everything at a level that small children can understand. It’s a book that speaks to gender and will also work for children who may not be transgender but feel that they don’t fit into the limits that society puts them into. It’s a book that celebrates being who you are and not being afraid to tell others what is in your heart.

MacPherson’s illustrations have a whimsical quality to them, filled with a zingy energy. The use of a bow to demonstrate gender works very nicely and subtly. The introduction of a girl character who is a lovely mix of long hair and skirts and then science and freedom makes for an excellent counterpoint to the bow and bow tie.

A strong addition to picture book about gender identity, this is a gentle way to speak about the issue with children. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.

 

 

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield (InfoSoup)

One day a bear cub found something in the woods: a piano. When he touches the keys, the sounds are terrible. But year after year he comes back and presses the keys again. Eventually he learns to play beautiful sounds on the piano. Soon all of the bears in the forest are listening too. When a girl and her father hear the music, they invite the bear to come to the city with them to play. He agrees even though he knows the other bears will be sad. After playing piano to great acclaim and winning awards and fame, the bear starts to long for the forest again. But can he return to the old piano in the woods and the other bears?

Litchfield has created a terrific picture book that tells a full story arc that children and adults will appreciate. The book speaks to the transforming nature of music, the longing for something greater and more, and then the longing to return to one’s origins and roots. It is also about talent and setting someone free to pursue their dreams. The entire book has a tugging nature to it, a bear caught between two worlds and the desire for exploration and the continued tie to home. It is beautifully done.

Litchfield’s illustrations are done in mixed media. They have a translucent and light-filled feel, particularly the forest scenes where sunlight beams in and the page glows. There is a beautiful luminous quality to them, inviting readers deeply into the page and evoking the scent of trees and grass.

An exceptional picture book that is musical, nature-filled and grand. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin (InfoSoup)

Three friends head out for a quiet picnic together that will end up leading them on a wild adventure. There is an opinionated vulture, a friendly but rather slow dog, and a motherly bear. On their picnic, they meet two creatures who will change their day entirely. Little Dee is a human and a resourceful child who doesn’t speak at all. Then there is the penguin who is on the run from the polar bears who are hot on his trail. Now it is up to the five of them to get the penguin back to his home before he ends up a  meal. Along the way, planes are stolen and jumped out of, wise mountain goats offer sage advice (maybe), and safety rafts become sleds. Much the same way that five unlikely characters become friends.

Baldwin has created a cast of lovable characters in this graphic novel for children. The humor is truly laugh-out-loud funny. It got to the point where I was following family members around to share one-liners from the story. In fact a large part of the success of this book is in the blend of a funny story in general and then the way that circumstances seem to invisibly line up for the perfect pun or joke with impeccable timing.

The art is wonderful too. Each character is unique and their outward appearance says a lot about their personalities. The prickly vulture is all angles. The bear is soft plush. Little Dee is a jolt of visual energy. The action is captured with a sense of fun throughout, adding to the fast pace.

A silly and very successful read, this graphic novel will be enjoyed by all. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Hector and Hummingbird by Nicholas John Frith

Hector and Hummingbird by Nicholas John Frith

Hector and Hummingbird by Nicholas John Frith (InfoSoup)

A bear named Hector was best friends with Hummingbird. But sometimes Hector wanted to just eat a snack in peace and Hummingbird would not stop talking. He wanted to scratch his back on a tree, but Hummingbird kept chatting. He wanted a nap and Hummingbird wanted to tell a story. One day Hector had had enough and stormed away from Hummingbird and into the jungle. Hummingbird let him go, kind of. But having complete quiet was not what Hector expected and soon he was missing Hummingbird. Luckily, Hummingbird was right there when Hector needed him.

Frith captures the dynamics of friendship in a very clear and clever way in this picture book. You have a rather quiet bear and a very talkative bird and the two of them may be best friends but sometimes it’s too much. Seeing an existing and strong friendship run into problems is a good set up for a picture book where often you are seeing new, budding friendships instead. The choice of animal for each of the characters makes the book a joy to share aloud, from the fast high Hummingbird to the slower and grumpier Hector.

The art in this picture book shines. Filled with lovely tropical colors of bright pinks, greens and teal blues, the illustrations have a vintage feel but a modern zing and energy. The color palette changes when the friends are reunited, becoming even more pink and filled with the energy of their friendship. It’s a clever transition that shows visually what is happening emotionally.

A great pick for friendship story times, this book is a winner as a read aloud. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Arthur A. Levine Books.