February 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: The Bear in the Book

Blue book cover with black bearBANKS, Kate. The Bear in the Book. illus. by Greg Hallensleben. 40p. Farrar/Frances Foster. Oct. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-374-30591-8.
PreS–In this deceptively simple bedtime story, a boy snuggles up with his mother to read his favorite book. It is about a bear going to sleep for the winter, and together they look at the pictures and talk about the text. “‘Do bears really sleep all winter long?’ asked the boy.” He turns the page and notices the snow. “‘Snow is cold,’ he said.” His mother reads some more about the sleeping bear, and animals in winter, and children gliding across the ice on a frozen lake. “‘I’d like to skate,’ said the boy.” Page by page, the bear sleeps while life goes on around him, but this book is about much more than that. With great subtlety, this mother and child are modeling the perfect way to share a picture book, cuddling up and allowing time to examine the pictures, talk about the concepts, and point out the known and unknown. Actions in the book within the book are internalized by the boy, demonstrating a fundamental aspect of reading comprehension: “A fox drank from a pond. ‘I’m thirsty,’ said the little boy.” As with previous bedtime books by these fine collaborators, short simple sentences create a tranquil, soothing air, while the lush textured oil paintings fill the pages with dense color. But the most valuable thing about this gem might be that it demonstrates a best practice, to the benefit of children and parents alike.–Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library