Jenny's Library

Reading Round-up 2013: Week 4 (part 1)

Posted on: February 10, 2013

This was the week we read about bears during preschool story time.  Which led to me reading lots of (new to me) picture books about bears. And so week four Reading Round-up has been divided up into two parts.

cover image for The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry BearThe Little Mouse, the Red, Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

Little Mouse has found a nice, red, ripe, yummy strawberry.  But can Little Mouse keep the big, hungry bear from taking the strawberry for himself?

This book is definitely a (modern) classic, and it’s not just because it get kids giggling.  The authors have managed to create a story that is clear and simple enough for very young children to follow, while telling it in a way that encourages analysis.

The text turns the reader into a character in the story: a narrator speaking to the small mouse.  The mouse in turn answers not with words, but with actions shown in the illustrations.   The basic story of a mouse scared of a bear is incredibly easy to figure out, but understanding all the small jokes requires that children see the cause and effect between the words and the illustrations.  Also, that they think critically about the fact that the bear is never seen.  This clever set up not only allows the story to work for a wide range of ages, it also provides children with much needed practice in comprehension and critical thinking.

And, of course, it’s funny and cute.

cover image for Otto the Book BearOtto the Book Bear by Katie Clemenson

At night, Otto the Book Bear steps out of his book and plays and talks with all the other book characters.  Until one day he goes off exploring and comes back only to discover that his book is gone!  In a plot reminiscent of the many stories about lost, forgotten, or outgrown toys, Otto sets off in search of a new home – and finds it in a library.

This was one of my favorites among all the bear books I read recently that were new (to me); mostly for personal reasons that should be quite obvious.  I haven’t yet read it aloud to the kids, but I expect it will work well, especially as the illustrations are cute, pleasant, and easy to see from a distance.

cover image for Bear Has a Story to TellBear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip Stead

A circular story that will likely never become a classic (it doesn’t have quite enough personality) but is nevertheless a good, clever read with very pretty illustrations.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

My first introduction to this book was a former bookstore coworker complaining to me about how awful it is.  Oh, silly adults with no sense of humor. * shakes head *

cover image for I Want My Hat Back(That said, the humor does work better with children in primary grades, rather than preschoolers or toddlers.)

This book is brilliant.  Even if you never ever ever read picture books, grab a copy to flip through next time you are in a bookstore with a children’s section.  (It’s a recent award winner, so most stores should carry it – even Mysterious Galaxy had a copy on display last time I was there.)  You will not regret it.  I’m not going to ruin the punchline for you, but I do want to point out that the awards are in recognition of not only the clever plot and sublime yet distinct illustrations but also because of the way that the structure of the story is leveraged into repetitive yet far from boring text that works for newer readers.  Also, Klassen’s use of space and color and repeating elements is just first class.cover image for This Is Not My Hat

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Sequel, of a sort, to I Want My Hat Back.  Same humor and art style, similar set up – but different enough to make it interesting, equally brilliant, and also an award winner.

cover image for I Miss You Mouse cover image for Thank You Bearcover image for Good Luck Bearcover image for Make A Wish Bear

I Miss You Mouse by Greg Foley

Thank You Bear by Greg Foley

Make A Wish Bear by Greg Foley

Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley

These adorable books are perfect for toddlers and younger preschoolers.  All four stories follow the same pattern of following Bear around as he interacts with the other animals, each exchange echoing all the others in both sentence structure and futility – until Bear meets up with mouse, who provides a solution.  The art is nicely graphic and manages to be simplistic without looking flat.

I Miss You Mouse also has flaps and thicker pages, making it especially appropriate for the toddlers these books will appeal to most.


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