Tag: bears

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.


Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman

Horrible Bear by Ame Dyckman

Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora (InfoSoup)

A little girl is flying a kite when her string breaks and the kite lands in a cave. When she heads into the cave to get her kite, there is a big bear in there who rolls over in his sleep and breaks her kite. The little girl gets very angry and yells at the bear, “Horrible Bear!” She stomps away to her home. Bear was very upset too. After all, he isn’t a horrible bear at all. But then he had a horrible idea of his own. He practiced barging in, making lots of noise and waking someone out and then headed down to her house. Meanwhile though, the girl was figuring out exactly how rude she had been. Now an apologetic little girl is all set for a run in with a bear ready to be horrible!

Dyckman has created a book that simply must be shared aloud. From the refrain of “Horrible Bear!” as the girl storms off to the roaring bear as he is being horrible, the entire book is filled with ways for children to participate. This book is about the importance of apologizing for bad behavior and mistakes and the way that apologies can completely change a situation. I particularly enjoyed the clever interplay of a grumpy girl and a mellow bear that then switch roles. It also shows that each of us have different aspects to our personality and that we can decide to change our moods.

OHora’s illustrations are wonderfully large and bold, adding to the appeal of the book for group sharing. With a dynamic mix of panels and other images that span both pages, the book makes turning pages fun and interesting. The orange bear pops on the page as does the red-headed little girl. The two convey their emotions clearly which makes it easy for children to understand as their moods change.

A wonderful picture book that is just right for sharing aloud with a group. Expect lots of chants of Horrible Bear from preschool audiences. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.


A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson

A Beginners Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson

A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by David Roberts (InfoSoup)

A child heads into bear country with a helpful narrator who tries to offer needed advice in dealing with bears. First, the narrator tells the child of the two kinds of bears, but assures them that they will never see one. But then on the next page, the child is lucky enough to encounter a bear right away. And it’s apparently a black bear, not only due to its coloring but because it chases the child right up a tree. The child backs away slowly and runs right into a brown bear next. The child plays dead, but that only invites the black bear to come closer. Pepper spray doesn’t help, it just makes them hungry. But perhaps gum will be the solution! Or maybe not.

It is the interplay between the knowledgeable adult narrator and the child who manages to get into all sorts of furry trouble that makes this book such a great pick to share aloud. The bears are huge and fearsome but the book also makes sure to show that there are ways to interact with nature that leaves everyone alright in the end, if a little shaken. The book also mentions that it is not safe to really interact with bears like the child does in the book.

The illustrations are wonderful. They move from cartoon friendliness to pages of information that have a graph paper background. The use of a gender-free main character who has brown skin, makes this book all the more friendly to children from a variety of backgrounds. And the merry way that the child faces each obstacle adds to the light-hearted feel of the book.

A silly and jolly look at nature and bears that is sure to add laughter to a storytime. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Bloomsbury.