Saturday, November 8, 2014

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip and Erin Stead - I Wonder What It Was...

Pros: Cozy illustrations and a simple, sweet story.
Cons: None

The Bottom Line: Bear is about to go to sleep, but will anyone hear his story first?

I love being the Lead in the kids’ section of the bookstore.  As adults we don’t ever have a reason to wander in there and look at all the cool stuff kids get to look at and read these days.  Like this picture book.

This book is soft, simple, and perfect for putting little ones to bed.  If you have ever read A Sick Day for Amos McGee (a Caldecott winner, by the way), then this book is right up your alley.  That is because it's written and illustrated by the same team.

Bear is about to go to sleep for a long time during winter.  But first he has a story he wants to tell.  He goes to the different animals of the forest to see if they want to hear his story.  Sadly, most of them are too busy getting ready for winter themselves, so Bear does what he can to help and moves on.  Will Bear find someone to listen or will he have to wait until spring to tell his story?

Bear is very sweet and helps out each little animal when necessary, from making a hole for Frog to sleep in to helping Mouse find seeds.  When Bear wakes up readers will wonder what his story is and whether or not everyone will be awake and ready to listen. But I won't spoil that for you.

The illustrations were done by Erin Stead and they are soft and very adorable.  Duck and Mouse and all the other creatures are so little compared to Bear. I love how such simple children's illustrations can convey different things so well.  How gentle bear is when helping mouse.  The colors are perfect for fall and they evoke a sense of slow quietness – especially in the picture when the first snow begins to fall and Bear stands alone under the sky, sleepy and still looking to tell his story.  It takes up both pages and fills you with that unique feeling you get when it’s you standing outside in a wide open space just as snow begins to fall.  It actually made me a bit sad for Bear because no one was able to listen to him. Awwww!

Erin Stead’s illustrations are a skillful combination of watercolor and pencil, and as usual I’m infinitely impressed by anyone who knows how to wield watercolors.  They’re perfect for the overall tone of the story.

If you enjoyed A Sick Day for Amos McGee, have a little one who loves bears, or are in need of a sleepytime or seasonal book, then this is the ideal choice. The ending is an interesting little surprise, but some (like myself) will always wonder just what story it was that bear intended to tell...


Notes from the playlist: "Coventry Carol" by Lifescapes

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