Review posted October 6, 2012.
A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, 2012. 32 pages.
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #7 Picture Books
Here's a gorgeous new offering by the creators of the Caldecott winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee. I like this one even better. The story is similar, but I like that the characters are all animals, and so don't include an adult at all, just a big furry bear who looks completely huggable.
This is a great getting-ready-for-winter tale and a great friendship tale. It's gentle and quiet, with a nice ending that circles back to the beginning.
The book begins:
It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy.
But first, Bear had a story to tell.
Bear asks all his friends if they'd like to hear a story. He asks Mouse, Duck, Frog, and looks for Mole. But Mouse has seeds to gather, Duck has to fly south, Frog has to find a warm place to sleep, and Mole is already asleep. Erin E. Stead so beautifully shows us a sleepy, sleepy bear walking through falling leaves and patiently helping out his friends. After a two-page spread of falling snow, we see Bear asleep in his den, and then waking up in the springtime.
In the spring, first Bear greets his friends and thinks of them. But the story is no longer on the tip of his tongue. Good thing he has his friends to help.
This is a book every parent of a young child should check out or purchase simply to enjoy the quiet but gorgeous artwork, perfectly paired with a story that kids will understand. And it's fun to have a story about hibernation that doesn't end with going to sleep. But it's also a book about Story. I love the way Bear gives up the story he originally wanted to tell and, with his friends' help, realizes that story is all around.