Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Author Terry Pierce talks Eat Up, Bear!

Eat Up, Bear! is an adorable, rhyming board book that addresses a big topic: respecting the local wildlife – and keeping yourself safe! – when enjoying the outdoors! Whether you’re having a picnic or birthday party in a park, going on a hike, or enjoying a camping trip, it’s important to remember that local wildlife, especially bears, LOVE to eat and will eat your food – not healthy for them! – unless you keep that food safely packed up and properly disposed of!

Eat Up, Bear!, by Terry Pierce/Illustrated by Nadja Sarell,
(Apr. 2021, Yosemite Conservancy),
$8.99, ISBN: 9781-951179-01-4
Ages 3-6

Author Terry Pierce was kind enough to answer a few questions I had. Enjoy!

MomReadIt: Hi there and thank you so much for writing Eat Up, Bear! I love that you’ve written a fun and informative book about keeping both bears and people safe. What inspired you to write Eat Up, Bear for a young audience?

Terry Pierce: Thank you for inviting me to talk about Eat Up, Bear!, Rosemary. It’s a small book that packs a powerful message. My inspiration for this story came from my love of black bears. I’ve hiked and backpacked my whole life and have had many amazing bear encounters in the wild. I’ve seen bears in trees, in ponds, even bears in my camp! One time, I almost ran right into a fledgling bear at a blind spot on a trail. That was exciting! All these encounters led me to have an enormous respect for them, knowing these are gentle creatures who really just want to eat and be left alone.

And therein lies the focus of Eat Up, Bear! Black bears LOVE to eat! Their natural food sources are things like berries, grubs, nuts, grass, and occasionally fish. But they’re also opportunistic eaters, meaning if humans leave food out a bear will eat it. And this is bad for both bears and humans. Obviously, bears should eat natural good-for-their-health foods, not chips and hoagies! Beyond concerns for the bear’s health, when a bear becomes dependent on human food, it can behave more aggressively in its efforts, becoming a “problem bear.” Bears have been known to break into cars if they see food inside, or rummage through a campground looking for unattended ice chests or food left out on picnic tables. This can be a huge problem for bears and people! Sadly, if a bear gets too aggressive, it is put down, so proper food storage can help prevent the death of a bear.

So, when I saw Yosemite Conservancy’s call out for board books, I immediately thought about writing a book about using proper food storage to help keep bears safe and healthy (people too!). Our goal for the book is to entertain and educate little campers everywhere and show how families can do their part to help keep bears wild through respectful coexistence.

MomReadIt: You mention a variety of ways people can enjoy nature, yet keep wildlife – especially bears! – safe from people food (which keeps people safe, too): latching boxes, packing their food well, locking up their coolers, and disposing of trash. Are there any other things to be aware of, when planning a day or camping trip, to keep everyone and every bear safe and sound?

Terry Pierce: Planning is the key word. Plan your trip ahead of time, including learning about wildlife you might encounter during your visit. You can visit the National Park Service website for specifics about the location. For backpackers, an essential item is a “bear canister” for storing your food. In the old days, hikers would hang their food in storage sacks from a tree branch at night, but now they’re required to use a bear canister (a heavy-duty plastic container with a locking lid that’s bearproof).

It’s also smart to make sure you leave no food (or evidence of food) in your car while you’re out enjoying nature. Bears will look in cars and can smell food even if it’s out of sight so roll up your windows. I once saw where a bear had ripped off a car door just to get three peanuts accidentally left on the dashboard! As Eat Up, Bear! says, “Bears are hungry. Clever, too! Take care or bears will eat your food!” The book is a good way for families to learn together the various ways to store food properly and keep everyone safe.

Last, in established campgrounds, such as those in Yosemite National Park, campsites have food lockers to store food when not in use. These lockers are bearproof and right in your campsite, making in convenient for campers to use. Keeping your food inaccessible to bears will keep them safe. For more information about bears and food storage, here’s a NPS link: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/bears.htm.

MomReadIt: Keeping the area safe for people and bears also means keeping the area safe and clean for everyone to enjoy. Over the last year in particular, people have turned to the great outdoors for a safe space. Do you have any suggestions for people that may be new to hiking, camping, and picnicking that will respect nature?

Terry Pierce: Yes, this is true! The pandemic has caused people to take to the great outdoors to enjoy life in a naturally social distanced way. And it’s wonderful to see so many families heading to the outdoors, exposing their little ones to nature early in life. But sometimes, when folks aren’t familiar with wildlife and the outdoors, mistakes can happen.

As I mentioned above, check out the area you plan to visit ahead of time, so you’ll be prepared. Also, check the weather conditions as they can make or break an outing (especially if you’re not prepared with proper attire).

The other thing I recommend is to be respectful of the outdoors while enjoying it. Immerse yourself in nature—listen to the birds, watch for animals, pack out all your trash, absorb the beauty and carry it with you. Turn off your music and phones and take in the sounds of the forest. Slow down as you drive so you have ample time to brake for wild animals. Resist the urge to take selfies with wild animals in the background. People have been injured doing so! Remember, wild animals are exactly that—WILD. So be respectful of them and their home while you visit.

And last, if you have little ones, prepare them in advance by reading books with them. Eat Up, Bear! is terrific book for the smallest of campers and hikers, not only for its message but Nadja’s Sarell’s gorgeous illustrations show what a camping experience might be like. Yosemite Conservancy has an online store with many wonderful children’s books: https://shop.yosemite.org/collections/youth.

Thanks so much to Terry Pierce! Visit Keep Bears Wild for more tips on staying safe – and keeping bears safe – when enjoying the great outdoors this spring and summer.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

What makes somewhere the Best Place in the World?

The Best Place in the World, by Petr Horácek, (Feb. 2021, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212853

Ages 3-6

Hare lives in a beautiful meadow, surrounded by his friends, but he wonders if it is the best place in the world. All of his friends say it is, but he’s not convinced. Owl suggests that Hare set out and see the world for himself; Hare discovers green fields, rivers and waterfalls, and a setting sun that looks like a pot of honey. Individually, they may be the best place in the world for some, but something is missing. Hare heads back home, realizing that the best place in the world is the place where your friends are. A gentle story about what makes a place a home, Petr Horácek uses mixed media illustrations to create textured, colorful spreads. Warm yellows, dusky reds, verdant greens, all come together to tell a warm, wonderful story about friendship and togetherness while the meditative text encourages readers to think deeply about what means the most to them in their homes, their communities, their families. A lovely storytime that encourages kids to think and share.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Jory John is sure that Something’s Wrong… but what could it be?

Jory John has a new picture book coming out and it is laugh-out-loud hilarious and so sweet. Something’s Wrong – the story of “A Bear, A Hare, and Some Underwear”, is read-aloud, sight gag GOLD. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this trailer.

I’ve got Something Wrong mini-celebrations going on all week – watch this space and join the fun!

Posted in Uncategorized

Another post about Bears…

(It’s a joke, based on one of the book’s titles. Keep reading.)

Who loves bears? We love bears! Teddy bears, polar bears, brown bears brown bears, bears are children’s book gold. I’ve got three books about bears to crow about today, so let’s start with the inspiration for this post’s title.

Another book about bears., by Laura & Philip Bunting, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1-68464-084-3

Ages 3-7

I love a story that breaks the fourth wall! Have you ever thought about how many books there are about bears? Did you ever consider that every time a bear stars in a story, that bear may have been in the middle of something “really good – like sleeping, or snoozing, or napping”? Well, the bears have had it and are going on strike! This hilarious book is all about one bear’s fight for justice. The omniscient narrator tries their best to nudge the bear into compliance in a silly series of moments like dressing it up in a tutu or suggesting the bear kiss a frog, but Bear stands firm, even calling up other animals to serve as a proper stand in. Kids will laugh out loud at the deadpan humor, and the ultimate solution that works for everyone is priceless. Originally published in Australia in 2018, Another book about bears is storytime hilarity just waiting to be revealed.

Visit Philip Bunting’s webpage for free, fun downloadables for kids, too!

 

A Polar Bear in the Snow, by Mac Barnett/Illustrated by Shawn Harris, (Oct. 2020, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536203967

Ages 3-6

Gorgeous cut paper and ink artwork presents a polar bear’s meandering through a brilliant white world and a deep blue sea. A polar bear wakes up in the snow and begins walking… but where is he going? What does he want? Award-winning author and illustrator Mac Barnett builds curiosity and excitement as readers follow the bear past seals, through a storm, and as he rebuffs a human in a very polar bearlike fashion, to end up at his destination. Shawn Harris’s illustrations give such texture and motion, layering shades of white upon white and blue upon blue, giving us a feeling of purpose and joy. Simple sentences and facts about polar bears (he clearly eats seals, but he’s not hungry right now; his coat protects him from the snowstorm; he likes to swim) are a wonderful introduction to young readers about the natural science of bears and the Arctic. A final question leaves much open to discussion. There’s so much presented in this book, so beautifully, and respects its youngest readers in its presentation. Teacher Tips are downloadable from Candlewick’s website.

A Polar Bear in the Snow has starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly.

 

Can Bears Ski?, by Raymond Antrobus/Illustrated by Polly Dunbar, (Nov. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212662

Ages 3-7

Little Bear can feel the world around him – all its rumbles and shakes, trembles and wobbles – but hearing his world is a little more difficult. He doesn’t hear things clearly, and thinks he hears everyone asking him, “Do bears ski?” Dad takes him to an audiologist one day, and is fitted for hearing aids that make his world way too LOUD. He resists them at first, hiding them around the house, but with his dad’s love and support, he understands that it’s just something new to get used to – and he also learns that everyone has been asking him not whether or not bears can ski, but “Can you hear me?” A touching story about self-discovery, Can Bears Ski? is essential for bookshelves and can start many conversations with children. Author Raymond Antrobus is a Ted Hughes award-winning deaf poet and teacher who wrote Can Bears Ski because “It’s the book I could see myself reaching for as a child, and I can’t wait to have it exist in the world.” Colorful ink and paint artwork made this a gentle, comforting story about a big topic. The CDC’s Kids Quest webpage has helpful facts for kids on hearing loss.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

What’s That Noise? Could it be a rumbly tumbly?

What’s that Noise?, by Naomi Howarth, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536213522

Ages 3-7

Magnus the Arctic seal wakes up to a strange, rumbling sound one morning. He sets off to figure out what it could be and encounters a group of friends along the way: an Arctic hare and fox, a ringed seal and snow owl, and a polar bear all puzzle over what the sound could be, but Walrus knows. It’s Magnus’s hungry tummy! After a tasty shrimp dinner, the friends all pile up to go to sleep, but another rumbling sound keeps them up. What could it be? What’s that Noise? is an engaging story and introduction to Arctic animals for younger kids; they get a chance to participate in the story during a readaloud if you invite them to figure out/tell the other animals what the rumbling could be, and at the end, let them chime in! It’s also a great chance for you to play with voices and sound effects. If you have flannels or animal puppets, take them out! Soft watercolors bring gentle color to the Arctic landscape, and endpapers show an Arctic sunrise and offer informative notes on the animals in the story.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Fair Shares teaches kids about equity

Fair Shares, by Pippa Goodhart/Illustrated by Anna Doherty, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $$12.99, ISBN: 9781684640485

Ages 3-7

Hare and Bear both want some of the tasty-looking pears in a tree, but can’t reach. Hare finds three chairs, but Bear says it’s unfair if Hare takes two chairs, to Bear’s one – but once they’re on the chairs, Bear is the only one that can reach! Luckily for Hare, Beetle steps in and explains that “giving everybody the same thing isn’t always fair”. Whew! Bear realizes that Hare really does need two chairs to reach the pears. Now, what does Beetle want to eat?

Originally published in the UK in 2019, Fair Shares is a beautifully smooth and straightforward explanation of equity, Fair Shares teaches readers of ALL ages that equal doesn’t always mean fair. Bear, who towers over Hare, only needs one chair to reach the pears. With just one chair, Hare is still struggling. Once Bear realizes this simple fact, he’s happy to let Hare get his share. The digital artwork is wonderfully textured, and Anna Doherty’s scanned ink and pencil textures give the story a lovely fall feel, with deep reds, greens, and yellows, and a fuzzy Hare and furry Bear. The ending will surprise and delight readers. Beautifully done, and an essential book to keep on hand.

Free Spirit Publishing has an article, with additional book suggestions, on teaching kids the difference between fair and equal. Teachers Pay Teachers has several free, downloadable classroom printable posters that explain and illustrate equity, including this one from the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, this equity classroom poster from Panda Circus, and this equity poster from Studying Education.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Halloween Books: Bears and Boos

Bears and Boos, by Shirley Parenteau/Illustrated by David Weber, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536208375

Ages 2-5

In the seventh Bears outing by Shirley Parenteau and David Weber, the bears are getting ready for Halloween and couldn’t be more excited! They rifle through a box of costumes, but as they get excited, manners give way to chaos, and little Floppy’s knocked right on her plushy behind! Floppy decides to let everyone else have their turn, but when the fuzz clears, there’s nothing left for Floppy but a crumpled sash. The other bears realize their mistake, and each takes a turn in giving part of their costume to Floppy, creating a wonderful costume. Now that they’re all ready for Halloween, they can all enjoy their holiday. As Shirley Parenteau writes, “When the bears all share, the bears all win. Let the Halloween celebration begin!”

A gently rhyming story that makes for a wonderful readaloud about sharing and kindness, kids and adults alike will recognize the chaos that can happen when emotions run high and even small tasks, like choosing a costume from a box, becomes a free-for-all. Having the teddies empathize with their friend and share their costumes with Floppy teaches a valuable lesson about kindness. The acrylic artwork is soft in color and depicts the teddies in their different colors, with cheerful costumes. Soft orange endpapers feature hanging ghost decorations for a fun Halloween feel. A fun Halloween addition to an adorable series.

Shirley Parenteau’s author website has downloadable resources for educators and caregivers, including writing prompts and drawing sheets.

Posted in Uncategorized

#HomesCool: New ABCs!

I love concept books that take the idea to the next level. These are two new abcedaries that make the ABCs a heck of a lot more exciting!

Eek! A Noisy Journey from A to Z, by Julie Larios and Julie Paschikis, (Sept. 2020, Peachtree Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-68263-169-0

Ages 2-5

ACHOO! A mouse picks a flower, sneezes, and the adventure begins! This book of ABCs tells a story from A to Z, all using sound effects to illustrate the letters of the alphabet. There’s a startled Eeek! when the mouse sees a cat, a Fwump when a growling dog playfully knocks the cat off its feet, and a Kabonk when a bicycle-riding raccoon strikes a tortoise’s hard shell. The mouse and its flower are at the heart of the story, witnessing sweet acts of kindness, fun, and excitement, with Mouse ultimately completing its mission and delivering the gift of a flower to a friend. India Ink and gouache artwork in bright colors and patterns stand out out against colorful backgrounds; the sound words are playful and the letters of he alphabet are bold, standing out against the backgrounds, letting readers easily identify them. Bright yellow backgrounds decorate the endpapers, with letters of the alphabet standing out, in orange, across the pages.

What a fun addition to ABC books and concept collections! Publisher Peachtree has an activity kit with coloring sheets and a storytime activities.

Eek! has a starred review from Kirkus.

 

Not An Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake, by Eoin McLaughlin/lllustrated by Marc Boutavant, (Aug. 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536212679

Ages 3-5

Oh no! As soon as you open the book, Bear is there waiting for you: there’s been a horrible crime and he needs your help! “The world’s most completely delicious, tongue-jinglingly chocolaty cake has been STOLEN” and we have to help find the thief! The ABCs lead readers through the clues and suspects they need to solve the mystery… but that bear looks like he’s hiding something, don’t you think? Readers will love this whodunit, and sharp-eyed observers will notice little details like a rather dark smudge across Bear’s face… and are those crumbs scattered across his table? The digital artwork makes for fun, expressive characters, and Bear is hilariously evasive as our unreliable narrator. The endpapers start off with Bear tracking crumbs, and end with… well ,the story’s conclusion. Absolute fun for storytime, this is an abcedary with a plot and a wicked sense of humor. Pair this with Audrey and Bruce Wood’s Alphabet Mystery for a whodunit storytime!

Not An Alphabet Book: The Case of the Missing Cake has a starred review from Kirkus.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Storytime is book review time! Something For You, With All My Heart, C Jumped Over Three Pots and a Pan

I’m a #SaturdayLibrarian today, so I figured that best way to catch up on book reviews was to put them in front of my toughest audience: TODDLERS. See, on Saturdays, I do storytimes in my children’s room’s Family Place center, which, in Corona (my library), is a little area full of learning toys for the kids to explore. So this is an audience that’s not always going to be riveted to my every word, ya know? I have to be on top of my game for Saturday Storytime, and I need books that are going to keep the kids and parents entertained. These three fit the bill.

Something for You, by Charlie Mylie, (Nov. 2019, Farrar Straus Giroux), $17.99, ISBN: 9780374312350

Ages 2-6

A sweet book about friendship, Something for You is about a mouse who wants to cheer up a sick friend. He searches for something to make her smile, but things don’t always go as planned. Mouse learns that just being a friend is all we need. The watercolor artwork brings a delicacy to the story, and the characters are drawn with kind, expressive faces; their movements also delicate and nurturing. The mouse who searches for something for his friend gently wraps a scarf around a cold pigeon and shares a flower with a bee – even if he’s a little grumpy about it! The story incorporates panels into the storytelling, allowing for a nice sequential feel, while showing small moments coming together to create a story.

This was the first book up, and the kids were intrigued. The cover caught their eye, and I asked, “Isn’t it nice when someone does something for you? Don’t you feel good when you do something nice for Mommy or Daddy?” Moms and dads smiled, and toddlers looked at them skeptically, but seemed to go along with it. The framed window, giving readers a view into the mouse caring for his sick friend, also caught the kids’ eyes: we’re natural spectators, right?

Something for You is adorable, and perfect for stories about kindness and empathy. Toddlers and preschoolers are the spot-on audience for this one, but older kids – Kindergarten and first grade, especially – will enjoy this one, too. Reading this book can lead to some wonderful discussions about friendship.

 

With All My Heart, by Stephanie Stansbie & Richard Smythe, (Dec. 2019, Silver Dolphin), $15.99, ISBN: 9781684129102

Ages 2-6

This is the sweetest book about parent-child love. A big bear and little bear cuddle together, splash, explore, and enjoy making memories together in this ultimate cuddle-sit rhyming story with die-cuts throughout the book. The verse reads with a soothing cadence and is a love letter to caregiving, to parenthood, to loving a child: “I saw your sweet smile/and I knew from the start,/I’d love you forever/with all of my heart”; “Each day, more than ever,/I love your sweet smile,/And feeling you close/as we cuddle a while”. Die cuts on each spread spotlight words in hearts, leaves, and star shapes.

The parents loved this one, and snuggled their little ones (still clutching their toys) into the laps and pointed out the bears, the diecuts, and details like the warm sun, the soft and silvery moon, the little moments between parent and child. This is a nice storytime/lapsit-cuddlesit/bedtime book to have in your collection, and would pair nicely with Anna Pignataro’s Our Love Grows, Margaret Wise Brown’s A Long Time That I’ve Loved You, and the classic Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney.

I’ll be reading this one again and again.

 

C Jumped Over Three Pots and a Pan and Landed SMACK in the Garbage Can!, by Pamela Jane/Illustrated by Hina Imtiaz, (Oct. 2019, Schiffer Kids), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764357954

Ages 2-6

I had to end on a silly note! After a rousing rendition of the Alphabet Song, I launched into a spirited reading of this hilarious rhyming story. The alphabet letters are at camp, when C, trying to show off to A and B, decides to leap over  – you guessed it – three pots and a pan. C jumps a little farther than expected, though, and lands – SMACK! – in a garbage can, sending the rest of the alphabet into a tizzy as they search for the letter E, who has three arms and can help pull C out. But E’s gone missing, along with three other letters! We have an alphabet mystery with dramatic tension here, and the repeated phrase, “C jumped over three pots and a pan and landed smack in a garbage can” make this a laugh-out loud book to read aloud. This is made for silly, emphatic reading out loud: I smack my thigh to emphasize the word “smack”, which gave the kids an extra giggle. It’s a fun take on concepts, and is PERFECT for kids who love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr.

The artwork is fun, adorable, and bold, with large letters that have arms, legs, and expressive faces. The primary colors are bright and playful, set against a camp setting complete with tents, boats and rivers, and grass.

Parents and kids alike enjoyed this one, and I’ll be coming back to this book again and again. If you do storytime crafts after your storytimes, there are loads of ideas to enhance your program. There are Do-a-Dot printables (perfect for little hands), letter crafts (my second grader did these in preschool, but the teachers used construction paper and cut out the shapes for the kids to decorate), and hundreds of alphabet coloring sheets. A quick Pinterest search or Internet search will lead you down the wonderful rabbit hole of alphabet coloring and crafts. Enjoy.

And that was my storytime today!

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Bear and Spider return in Bear Out There

Bear Out There, by Jacob Grant, (June 2019, Bloomsbury Children’s Books), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-68119-745-6

Ages 3-6

Bear and Spider’s newest adventure – the follow-up to 2018’s Bear’s Scare – sends the two friends on an outdoor hunt for Spider’s kite. Bear is just not an outdoorsy bear. Why bother? Everything he needs is inside! But Spider really wants to fly his new kite, so Bear relents and goes out for a little while. Spider’s kite gets pulled away by the wind, and Bear reluctantly offers to help him find the kite, but he complains the whole time, not noticing the nature all around him; focusing only on what he perceives as noise and weeds. When the rain comes, Bear is even more miserable, until he realizes that he hasn’t been a very supportive friend. He offers to help Spider keep looking, and sure enough, the rain stops and they locate Spider’s kite. The two friends end the day with a sweet compromise: they sit outdoors, having tea, and flying kites together.

As in his earlier story, Bear has a bad habit of not seeing what’s in front of him. His perception is skewed; something the art lets us readers in on as an inside joke. What he sees as “filthy ground, itchy plants, and pesky bugs”, we see as a sedate forest spread; what he sees as “yucky weeds”, we see as flowers that a turtle enjoys smelling; what he calls “noisy twitter” is the hooting of baby owls. Spider is there to be our “can you believe this guy?” foil, descending from his thread, wide-eyed and staring off the page, directly at us. At a rushing waterfall amidst gentle, rolling hills and butterflies, Bear’s exclamation of “such an unpleasant forest” is met with Spider, legs thrown up in the air in frustration. When Bear realizes he’s been selfish, letting his pessimism get in the way of helping his friend, things lighten up – literally; the rain stops falling and the kite is located. It’s all about perception, and friendship is all about compromise.

This one is a sweet follow-up, and reminds me of Arnold Lobel’s classic friends, Frog & Toad. Visit Jacob Grant’s website for more of his artwork and information about his books.