Thursday, October 02, 2008

Picture Book Thursday!

Allison and I are going to start a new feature on the blog! Picture Book Thursday! Since she and I are constantly reading books to our little ones, we thought we'd share some with you! I'm sure we have some parents reading the blog who might be looking for a new fun book to read to their kids. Or perhaps others have kids they know and would like gift ideas. At any rate, hope you enjoy it! :-)

I think we decided on a bear theme for our first installment of Picture Book Thursday, which is very fitting for the first book I've chosen to review! My daughter Lily turned three this weekend and she received several books as gifts. One of them was The Bear with Sticky Paws by Clara Vulliamy. In the book, a little girl named Lily is being defiant to her mother. She won't wash her face, brush her hair, or get dressed. And "No!" is her favorite word. After her mom leaves for the day, a little white bear shows up at the front door. Lily and the bear have fun snacks and play making a big mess in the house. When Lily tries to get the bear to take a bath, brush his fur and go to bed, all he says is "No!" Then he leaves and in comes Mom! Lily then tells her mom she will clean up the mess, wash her face and brush her hair. I think the illustrations are really sweet and have a bit of a nostalgic feeling to them. They are a nice change of pace from the many television derived books in our house (Dora, Little Einsteins, the new Curious George books, Disney Princess, etc.). This adorable book is perfect for the ages 3-5 years (Even though the publisher says 4-8 years, it's not too wordy for a toddler who enjoys being read to.). And perfect for MY Lily who is in a bit of a defiant stage herself! :-) And her favorite thing in the world is her Bear snuggle blanket.

Another favorite in our house is We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, which Allison actually gifted to us last year! (Thanks Allison!) Both my girls just love this book! A family decides to go looking for a bear on a beautiful day. They come across many obstacles such as a grassy field, a river, mud, and wind. Each page contains the same pattern and has great words for describing the sounds like "squelch squerch" for going through the mud or "whoo hooooo" for the wind. In the end the family decides maybe a bear hunt isn't the best idea. :-) The book is supposed to be for 4-9 year olds, but my then 2 year old loved the board book version too.


Bear Feels Scared is the latest in a series by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, and is perfectly timed for Autumn/Halloween. Matt, Lilah, and I all adore Bear Snores On, the first in the series, in which a hibernating Bear sleeps on as his friends have a party in his lair, so we picked up Bear Feels Scared from the B&N Halloween section. It's adorable, as expected from this author/illustrator team. Wilson's rhyme scheme and rhythm are gentle and lilting, easy and fun to read aloud, with the first line "In the deep, dark woods by the Strawberry Vale, a big bear lumbers down a small, crooked trail." Bear gets lost in the autumn woods and is frightened by sounds and the dark, but his friends find him and take him back home. I don't think it's overly frightening, just enough to be a relief when Bear's friends arrive. Lilah loves this one, and listens to the entire book (which she doesn't do for all text-heavy books). It's billed as for ages 4-8, but Lilah, at 21 months, has been a fan of the Bear books since I can remember. They're a delight for parents to read out loud, and a hit with kids. Chapman's illustrations are just beautiful, with Bear and other animals rendered in a fairly realistic style, but with abundant facial expressions, and the autumnal backgrounds in this one, with winds blowing and leaves swirling, are gorgeous. Readers of the other Bear books will notice marked similarities among the books as far as rhythm and rhyme scheme, but this doesn't bother me; instead, the familiarity is pleasant, like returning to visit old friends Bear, Badger, Hare, and others.

Lilah likes to read thematically--she'll grab a stuffed duck and hand us all her books featuring ducks. Another favorite are "Brown bear books!" We read several books in a row, all featuring brown bears, so naturally, my "bonus" bear book for the day is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle. It's a classic for a reason. We have it in tough board-book format, and Lilah loves pointing at the animals and telling us what they are (and their colors). When she was younger, she would point and have us tell her the animal names and colors. Carle's modern-art illustrations are gorgeous, rich, and colorful, a sure hit with little ones, and the repetitive nature of the text is perfect for children learning to read.

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