Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

When I saw this beautiful big book on the New Arrivals Shelf at the library I snatched it up. For one thing, it had this great big cuddly-looking bear on the front cover, and for another thing it had Kevin Henkes name in big letters, and Mr. Henke's work has always been popular at our house.

If you can't remember what Kevin Henkes has written, I've put together a visual aid that might jog your memory. (gotta love widgets)


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Old Bear is a book meant for older babies, toddlers and preschoolers. It's a story that begins with a hibernating bear. He is all curled up in his den when he begins to have the most wonderful dreams. Bear dreams about all the things he loves in the world, and his dreams take us through the seasons and through a wonderful range of color palettes.

Spring is lovely pastels. Pinks and lavenders predominate, and there are crocuses and tulips and daffodils, some as big a trees. Bear is actually shown as a cub sleeping inside one of the huge flowers.

Summer is vibrant greens with hints of blue. There are flowers and butterflies, and Young-Bear eats a rain of scrumptious blueberries!

Autumn's scheme is very red and orange! There are fish and birds and falling leaves and Young Bear entertains himself by climbing a tree.

Winter, on the other hand, is done up in blue with small starbursts of color. Young Bear sits watching the winter wonderland and the bright moon. The text says, "It was night, and the sky was blazing with stars of all colors. The cold went on forever." But it doesn't really go on forever, of course. And after sleeping and dreaming, and dreaming and sleeping, Old Bear awakens to be renewed by the beauty of a world that is itself renewed: all dressed up in a rainbow of colors.

Besides the pleasant story, and Mr. Henkes wonderful artwork, what makes this book good enough to merit a review on this website is that it offers so much to talk about. You can sit with babies and toddlers and use the book to teach them about colors and animals. With toddlers and preschoolers you can discuss the four seasons and weather. Old Bear even provides a good opening for we adults to talk with children about dreams and sleep and hibernation.

For all these reasons, Old Bear would be wonderful choice to add to home shelves. Old Bear is a Good Read-Aloud.

Considerations :::
Old Bear has an Accelerated Reading (AR) designation of 2.1 which means that the average 2nd Grader in the 1st month of school should be able to read it without getting frustrated by the vocabulary. Having said that, the actual content I would say is for much younger children. So please consider that this book is really meant to be read aloud to children.


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