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: 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K. A. Barson

45 pounds

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K. A. Barson

When Ann’s parents divorced and then her parents remarried and started new families, Ann turned to food to soothe herself.  Now she is 16 years old and wears a size 17.  Her mother on the other hand is a perfect size 6.  When they shop together, it is torture for Ann.  Her mother tries to motivate her, but picking out a tiny bikini as motivation is not the right way!  Then Ann is asked to be a maid of honor in her aunt’s wedding and she decides to lose 45 pounds by the wedding in 10 weeks.  Ann starts out by ordering a kit from an infomercial and eating according their diet.  To do that, she has to get a job to pay for the food.  Her summer suddenly becomes about a lot more than watching TV and eating.  Now she is attending dance lessons for the wedding, gets invited to the party of the year, and has a boy flirting with her!  It’s a summer of change, and it’s not all about losing weight.

Thank goodness for the lightness of this title.  This subject can be heavy handed at times, but not here.  Happily, the book deals with weighty topics (pun intended) but manages to remain positive and not didactic at all.  Instead it is a voyage of self-discovery for Ann and the reader.  One notes quickly that she catches the attention of the cute boy before losing lots of weight.  The book does address fad diets and infomercials as well as the way that parental pressure can backfire. 

Yet the book is not all about weight loss.  It also explores divorce and its impact on children, the way siblings can drift away, the loss of friendships, and the way that all of that impacts self esteem.  It is this depth that makes the book so rich.  One understands Ann’s pain and why she was eating to cover it all up.  Beautifully, readers are also shown that thin people may not be quite as comfortable or healthy as they may seem either.

A great pick for teen readers, this book is about being comfortable at any size.  Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from copy received from Viking.