Review: Bear Out There by Jacob Grant

Bear Out There by Jacob Grant

Bear Out There by Jacob Grant (9781681197456)

This second book about Bear and his friend Spider follows Bear’s Scare. Bear is happy staying at home all day, being cozy and warm. Spider though has a kite that he wants to fly, and he loves to be outdoors. When Spider’s kite gets away from him, Spider asks Bear for help finding it. So Bear heads out into the itchy, bug-filled, dirty woods along with his friend. The two search for a long time, Bear completely missing the charm of the woods. When it starts to rain though, the entire adventure gets bleak and disheartening. The two friends though, never quit. They eventually find the kite tangled in the trees. Now can they find a way of compromising and finding some indoor/outdoor fun together?

Grant writes with a great wry sense of humor that really allows Bear to be just as grumpy as he likes without the book ever becoming too filled with complaints. Spider helps in that way too, without saying a word, keeping spirits high and trying to show Bear how lovely the outdoors actually are. The text is simple and the pace is just right for a walk in the woods.

As with the first book, Grant’s art is perfect for sharing with a group. He fills the pages with color and large shapes. Even small Spider can be easily viewed by children seated on the floor. The art is welcoming and simple.

A look at the wonders of nature through the lens of a friendship. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Review: A Web by Isabelle Simler

A Web by Isabelle Simler

A Web by Isabelle Simler (9781441328434)

A spider takes a look at the things around her and then demonstrates her skill as a webmaker and an artist. The book features all sorts of items from the spider’s world. There are twigs, feathers, pebbles, insects, leaves, flowers, and more. With each spread of a variety of different kinds of these items, each item is labeled and the pages are filled with details worth exploring. Sharp-eyed readers will notice a spider lurking nearby. At first this is subtle, but soon the black legs of the spider are impossible to miss. When her art is unveiled at the end, readers will realize the care with which she has chosen from the wide array of different pieces for her work.

Simler’s text is minimal, offering basically the category that the items fall into and then labels for each item. The splendor of this title are the finely detailed illustrations that invite readers in. Children who love to categorize items or enjoy nature will love to pore over the pages here. The addition of the art at the end is a splendid surprise for readers who thought they were in a more serious nonfiction book.

Expect children to want to hold this on their laps and really look at the illustrations. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

Im Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton

I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton (InfoSoup)

Using a great premise, this nonfiction picture book offers up lots of information on spiders. Told in first person, the narrator says that they are working to love spiders, but it just doesn’t seem to be working. They try looking more closely at them, but that doesn’t work and ends up with a spider squished on the page with the reader’s help. The next attempt goes a little better, focusing on the spiders’ eyes, webs and how they are able to walk up walls. Even the attempt to gently pet a spider ends up squished. But when a cloud of bugs invades the book, there’s only one thing that can help! Spiders to the rescue!

Barton takes the subject of arachnophobia and turns it into a clever look at spiders. The premise of the book is very engaging and gets even more so when the reader is called upon to use their own hand to squish or pet the spiders on the page. The facts shared are engaging and fascinating. They are selected to be interesting even to those struggling to love spiders. Even better, the book encourages children to take a closer look at things that scare them and shows how to approach changing your attitude.

Barton’s art has a wonderful loose quality to it that works particularly well with the zany interactions here. Her spiders are rather cute, fuzzy and googly eyed and very easy to love. Her humor is great, integrated into both her text and her illustrations. I particularly enjoyed what a human spider web made from our hair would look like as a house.

Inventive, funny and engaging, this nonfiction picture book will have you petting spiders in no time. Just be really careful not to smash them! Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.