The Bear in the Book

 
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The Bear in the Book

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Farrar Straus & Giroux October 2012

  “Crocuses popped up through the earth. A fox drank from a pond. ‘I’m thirsty,’ said the little boy, His mother got him a glass of water. The boy held the book. He listened to the sound the pages made when he turned them back and forth. ‘Shh,’ he said to the sleeping bear.”

The last time I wrote about the circle time movement song “Sleeping Bears” was five years ago, when I recommended OLD MOTHER BEAR by Victoria Miles and Molly Bang. Now, thanks to THE BEAR IN THE BOOK, I’ll take the opportunity to mention it again. You "do" Sleeping Bears by getting the kids to all lean over or lie down, eyes closed, pretending to be asleep, and then singing to them this little verse: Sleeping bears, oh sleeping bears, oh sleeping in their caves. Sleeping bears, oh sleeping bears, oh sleeping in their caves. Please be very quiet, oh so very quiet, If you shake them, if you wake them, they get very mad. When they hear “they get very mad,” the kids all spring up, stand on their toes, bare their claws and teeth, and give the loudest roar they possibly can. I always enjoyed leading a couple of rounds of Sleeping Bears before having the children settle down for a story.

“The bear was munching on berries and leaves. He was fattening himself up for the winter. Then he gathered twigs and carried them to his den. ‘He is making a soft bed,’ said the boy’s mother.” THE BEAR IN THE BOOK contains a story of a bear preparing for hibernation and then embarking on his winter sleep. But that is the story within the story. THE BEAR IN THE BOOK is actually the story of a young child at bedtime nestling up next to his mother and interacting with his favorite book. There are so many different ways in which the young boy here connects with the book and the story: He CHOOSES the book from those on the shelf. He OPENS it, and LOOKS at the pictures. He HANDS it to his mom and cuddles up. He ASKS questions about the story. He CONNECTS with the book’s character, telling the bear in the book “shh. ” He TURNS the pages. He IMAGINES feeling the snow falling “across the pages of the book.” He FINDS the animals outside the bear’s den obscured by the snow and woods. He DESIRES to skate like the children in the story. He TOUCHES the sharp corners of the book. He IDENTIFIES and POINTS OUT the colors in one of the spreads. He GETS thirsty hearing about the fox drinking. And, of course, by this time, the boy is yawning, his eyes beginning to feel heavy.

“She turned to the last page of the book. The bear was rolling over in his den. The warm wind was tickling his back. Spring had arrived. ‘Wake up, big black bear, wake up,’ said the boy’s mama. “The bear got to his feet. He crossed the page. And walked out into the sunshine. But the boy’s eyes had closed.” One more thing I really liked here: The cover of the book is a “headshot” of the bear looking at us. When I happened to lay my reading glasses down on top of the book, I discovered that the headshot was scaled so as to make my glasses fit him perfectly. (And, of course, if you turn the book over you see the back of the bear’s head on the back cover.) Good night…  36 pages  978-0-374-305918

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_

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