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

Boy builds empathy and understanding

Boy, by Phil Cummings/Illustrated by Shane Devries, (March 2018, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-739-4

Recommended for readers 4-8

A deaf young boy, growing up in a medieval village ravaged by a giant dragon, brings peace to all by simply encouraging them to listen. He speaks with his hands or by drawing pictures in the sand, but not everyone is patient enough to understand Boy – until he wanders into a big fight between the king’s troops and the dragon. He can’t hear everyone screaming for him to be careful, but looks up to see everyone staring at him. He asks them, via written message, why they’re all fighting, which sets off blame and pointing fingers on both sides. Turns out, it was all just a big misunderstanding that grew into years of conflict. The boy has helped bring about peace with his simple question, and teaches the villagers how to speak with their hands: and, most importantly, to listen.

Boy is all about empathy. By introducing a deaf protagonist, readers learn that sometimes, words get in the way; being able to take the time to understand and be understood is the key to brokering a peace between the kingdom and the dragon. I loved the poetic language used to describe how Boy communicates: “he spoke with dancing hands and he drew pictures for people in the sand”. The subdued art is sweet and will appeal to kids who love dragons and knights, just on a calmer scale. Introduce some ASL in this storytime: Jbrary has great tips and songs. I use the Hello and Goodbye songs in my toddler storytimes, and the kids love it. Introduce simple ASL like a fingerplay, and you’re teaching kids how to communicate in a new language.

Posted in Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Tone Deaf: YA romance with a little extra

tone deafTone Deaf, by Olivia Rivers (May 2016, Sky Pony Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781634507073

Recommended for ages 13+

When Ali Collins agrees to go to a concert with her best friend, Avery, she never expects her life to change, but that’s exactly what happens when she wins a backstage tour and meet and greet with Jace, the heartthrob lead singer of the band. Jace, however, is a moody, unpleasant jerk who flips her off when he discovers that she’s deaf. It’s only when Jace’s manager insists that he track Ali down to apologize – he doesn’t need any more bad press – that Jace sees the bruises. Ali lives her with father, a retired police chief, who abuses her, and Ali’s got a plan to run away. When Jace – who has demons of his own – offers Ali the chance to help her escape to New York, she takes him up on it and finds herself traveling cross-country with Tone Deaf, Jace’s band. Spending time together, the two learn that they have more in common than they could have imagined. Can Ali stay hidden while her father uses all of his resources to bring her home? And what happens after she reaches New York, and she and Jace part ways?

Tone Deaf is an interesting take on YA romance. There’s a little something in here for everyone: disability, LGBT characters, animal rescue, and child abuse. It sounds like a lot to throw into one book, but it flows nicely and all the elements come together to create a readable story. Jace is the brooding hero with the deep, tortured past; Ali is the EveryGirl that needs to take her life back. They can’t stand one another, but you know they’re going to fall in love, and it’s all good. Romance readers will enjoy the story, and additional resources provide information and links about the Deaf community.

A good additional add for your YA collections, especially where romance does well.


Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

The Fifth Vertex – a young warrior discovers his true power

fifthvertexThe Fifth Vertex, by Kevin Hoffman (Aug. 2014) $11.99, ISBN: 978-0990647911

Recommended for ages 14+

Urus is a boy born into a warrior society, but he’s failed his warrior tests and is about to branded as a public burden – until all hell breaks loose. At the same time, an orphaned girl named Cailix, who has been living as a servant among a society of monks, finds herself on the run after a strange group of men slaughters her caretakers. What follows is a hero’s journey that will reveal to both Urus and Cailix who they really are: Urus comes from a line of Sigilords, who wield the power to create using ancient symbols, and Cailix discovers more about her origins than she could have ever imagined.

This is new fantasy series, self-published by the author, that really takes the classic hero’s quest and runs with it. Urus, who is deaf, must learn to rise above his low self-esteem and take control of the gifts he possesses – gifts only recently revealed to him. Cailix discovers her own gifts possess devastating power – but if used for good, can she turn things around? The two must figure these questions out while under the gun to save their world from a group of sorcerers determined to destroy five hidden vertices that protect their world.

This was a good read and a good start to a new fantasy adventure series for teens. There is a lot of slaughter and blood here – Urus’ society is a warrior society, and they’re fighting a band of sorcerers who use blood magic, so expect a bloodbath. If that’s not your thing, then this is not your series. I have no issue with it, and I thought the way Mr. Hoffman worked Urus’ deafness into the story, interweaving his with his signing ability as a sigilord, was really well done.  We’ve got some multiculturalism in the character descriptions, a strong female lead, and a few different hidden origins and conspiracies, all laying the groundwork for subsequent books. It’s a good start for fantasy fans who want something new to read.