February 23, 2018

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Where, Oh Where, Is Baby Bear? by Ashley Wolff | SLJ Review

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redstarWOLFF, Ashley. Where, Oh Where, Is Baby Bear? illus. by Ashley Wolff. 32p. S. & S./Beach Lane. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481499163.

PreS –When night falls, the sweet and curious black bear cub and his mother go looking for food. Mama hunts and Baby Bear explores. “‘Where, oh where, is Baby Bear?’ calls Mama.” Readers won’t worry, because Wolff has hidden Baby Bear in the spread for them to find. “Here I am, Mama,” he replies each time. The sky subtly darkens as they make their way through their world, each page featuring creatures that share the habitat with the bear family: the placid owl, a faun, raccoons, and otters. Here too are the mushrooms, ferns, and cattails of a woodland life, providing young viewers with a window into nature. The scope of their adventure is recalled at the end of the story, as Wolff shows the pair making their way back through the meadow, around the pond, across the river, between the birch trees, down the cliff, and into their den. The ending is predictable but comforting—Baby Bear asking, “Where, oh where, is Mama Bear” and her retort “Here I am, right beside you.” Wolff uses linoleum block images printed on paper in black, which she then hand-watercolors. The juxtaposition of hard black printed lines with the subtle colors of nature at night are a perfect match to the narrative. The act of reading the book with an adult mirrors its theme—the balance of independence and nurture. This iteration of Baby Bear’s adventures will find success as a lap-sit or story time at home or in a library. VERDICT This title is a winner—vivid illustrations, a narrative that begs for call and response, elements of seek-and-find, and an introduction to woodland nature. A must-have for all collections.–Lisa Lehmuller, Paul Cuffee Maritime Charter School, Providence

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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