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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

Bedtime stories to cuddle and giggle by: Sleep and Just Because

Bedtime story time is always a great way to bring a day to a close. It’s cuddle time, you’re winding things down, and sometimes, you can lull yourself to sleep with a good, calming story. They can be funny, they can be silly, they can be sweet; most of all they allow you to share some much needed downtime with your kiddos. Here are two recent ones I’ve been enjoying with my kiddo.

Sleep: How Nature Gets Its Rest, by Kate Prendergast, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536207989

Ages 4-7

Animals sleep, just like we do, but some animals sleep very differently. Dogs and cats sleep curled up… when they aren’t playing; giraffes sleep standing up; meerkats sleep in a heap, and fish swim while they sleep and don’t close their eyes! Sleep: How Nature Gets its Rest is a quiet book on how different animals sleep, beautifully illustrated with muted mixed media. The brief text makes for calm, soothing bedtime reading, and the one-two sentences per page makes this a good choice for emerging readers with an interest in animals during waking hours, too. A concluding note asks readers if they think animals dream, giving them something to ponder as they fall asleep. Back matter offers more information on each of the animals who appear in the book, and websites for more reading about animal habits.

What a sweet way to fall asleep.

Just Because, by Mac Barnett/Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, (Sept. 2019, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780763696801

Ages 4-8

Parents will appreciate this book just as much as the kids do. It’s bedtime, but a little girl is not ready for bed yet: there are too many questions to be answered! “Why is the ocean blue? What is the rain? Why do the leaves change color?” One question leads to another in this story that many, many parents and caregivers will recognize. The responses will make you laugh even harder, because this caregiver has a sense of creative humor with his answers. Just Because is an invitation to the imagination for parents and kids alike, and is an instantly recognizable, tongue-in-cheek recreation of bedtime and its many delays. Isabelle Arsenault’s gouache, pencil, and watercolor artwork is minimal in color, with pale color to pages for emphasis, and wonderfully brings each answer to life: we have dinosaurs strapped to giant balloons and birds, warming themselves by a matchstick that blooms into an autumn leaf. Let this book guide you the next time you’re tempted to respond, “Just because” to a child’s question. Don’t miss this one.

Mac Barnett is a Caldecottt Honor-winning, award-winning, children’s book author who (along with being one of my favorites) creates hilarious, thoughtful, and often whimsical stories for kids.

Just Because has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus.

 

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Circle, by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen brings the Shape Trilogy to a sweet close

Circle, by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $15.99, ISBN: 9780763696085

Ages 5-10

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen’s Shape Trilogy has been hilarious reading, and the final book in the trilogy, Circle, wraps things up in a sweet, silly, perfect way. The three shape friends – Triangle, Square, and Circle – play a game of hide and seek; Circle only asks that no one hide behind the waterfall. So, naturally, the second Circle closes her eyes to count, Triangle takes off and hides behind the waterfall. Circle heads off to fetch Triangle, and heads into the deep dark area behind the waterfall, where she vents her frustrations at Triangle: “Why do you always break all the rules? Why do you always spoil our fun? Why are you such a bad friend?” When Triangle doesn’t answer, Circle takes a moment, apologizes for her angry words, and Triangle thanks her – but Triangle isn’t standing where Circle expects her to be! So whose eyes do the shapes see, glimmering in the dark? Not waiting to find out, the two dash back to the safety of the outside, where they ponder what could have been with them in the dark. “It might have been a good shape”, says Circle; “We just could not see it”.

Circle is a story where kid see themselves, and parents and caregivers will see their kids. Who among us hasn’t said, “Okay – you can play ANYWHERE in this area, but don’t go there”, knowing full well that the second you finish that sentence, one of your little ones is charging directly for that one forbidden spot? Kids will understand the frustration of a friend who doesn’t listen to them, and the spillover that can lead to. Circle also has an important message, quietly included in the storyline: don’t make snap judgements without more information. Don’t jump to conclusions or make decisions about others based on fear. (That being said, stranger danger is also worth a mention here.)

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen can do no wrong in my book. The Hat Trilogy and the previous Shape books are instant storytime go-tos for me, and my son knows that, left to my own devices for at-home reading, those are the books that are likely to get pulled off the shelf. I love the way these two creators work together; the sharp, dry humor that speaks volumes; the spare artwork that communicates so much with a mere shift of a pair of eyes, and the enjoyment I see when the kids reading along with me get the jokes. Finish your collection and get Circle on your shelf.