More Book Bears selections

Hello, bears! We’re excited to be sharing a few more of our recent Book Bears selections. We’ve had a lot of fun making these selections, and we hope our subscribers have enjoyed them. Happy reading, bears! #GiveaBearaBook #BookBearsRead

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MOUSIE LOVE by Dori Chaconas, illustrated by Josée Masse

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From the publisher: From the very moment Tully sees Frill, he’s in love–and he’s determined to marry her. Proposing marriage isn’t the problem, but Frill can’t ever quite give him an answer. Is Frill just playing coy? Or is the over-eager Tully not giving her a chance to reply? Like it’s classic cousin Froggy Went A-Courtin, this charming tale about courtship and marriage will have even the youngest listeners thinking about wedding bells!

Our take: This book is about a little mouse named Tully who can’t stop proposing marriage to another mouse, Frill. The problem is that Tully never waits for an answer from Frill, who “didn’t say no. She didn’t say yes. She didn’t say maybe.” Essentially, it’s a book about waiting (something we’d say all kids have a bit of trouble with!). There’s a sort of old-fashioned earnestness to the story that feels very cozy, and the repetition throughout works well for this age level. Plus, there’s just enough adventure and silliness to keep all kids engaged in the plot. We paired this with an activity on kindness as that’s what helps our Tully seal the deal. The book could also tie in nicely to Valentine’s Day.

Text copyright © by Dori Chaconas, Art copyright © by Josée Masse

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THE GETAWAY by Ed Vere

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From the publisher: Fingers McGraw is the sneakiest cheese thief in town. He’s on the run with the law on his tail, and he needs you to help him make his getaway! Keep a look out for the big eyes, large feet and long nose of officer Elephant as you follow Fingers’ trail through downtown New York and remember, even the best look-out can fail and even the sneakiest of thieves get caught…or do they? A fast, funny tale that will have you hooked from page 1.

Our take: This is a wild one! It also features a mouse, but it couldn’t be more different from the 2-5 selection above. Fingers McGraw, as our mouse is called, is a bit of a gangster who’s trying to pull off the perfect heist. The graphic format is super engaging and there’s a great interactive element – Fingers asks readers to whistle when they see the elephant (who is after him). There are also some extra storylines tucked into the art, including birds tweeting throughout the book and a rat that’s always seen behind bars. This book can make a great exploration of storytelling, narration, and voice for older kids, and we love that there are newspaper clips included which help further the story. There’s a ton going on here, so the book is perfect for repeat readings.

Copyright © by Ed Vere

Book Bears selections

Hello, bears! Every so often we like to share some of our Book Bears choices to give everyone a little taste of what our service has to offer. Here are two fun and very different selections we made for ages 2-5 and ages 5-8. We hope our subscribers loved the books. Happy reading! #GiveaBearaBook #BookBearsRead

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BIG RUG BUGS by Kurt Cyrus

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From the publisher: “Clear that thicket, dozer cricket./Ants that sift, sort and lift./Big bug rig, watch it dig.” Lifting, sorting, digging, and hauling are dirty jobs, but someone’s got to do them. So when a construction worker throws away a half-eaten sandwich, a crew of bugs gets to work clearing the area of debris. With a simple text and up-close illustrations, readers will see how bugs and trucks have much in common―that an ant is just like a forklift or a cricket can act as a bulldozer. Kids will be fascinated by Kurt Cyrus’s innovative and bold artwork showing each bug’s unique way of getting the job done!

Our take: This selection is light on story and more about the drama of the images. We love the juxtaposition of big machines and tiny bugs, and that it’s the bugs who get their close-up here! The rhyming text helps little bears discover the amazing world of insects and the jobs they do (the machines also work diligently in the background, too), and the text is simple enough that kids could learn it on repeat readings. We love the dramatic, scaled-up look at these busy little workers. Plus, teaching kids about insects and all the things they do makes them less scary, too.

Copyright © by Kurt Cyrus

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HAUNTED HOUSE, HAUNTED MOUSE by Judy Cox, illustrated by Jeff Ebbeler

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From the publisher: Mouse’s appetite leads him on a Halloween adventure when he hitches a ride in a trick-or-treat bag of candy and finds himself alone in a haunted house.

Our take: It’s been our experience that little bears love Halloween books, and this is a fun one! Mouse makes his way into a trick-or-treater’s bag of candy. It’s yummy, but Mouse gets dizzy and bails. Outside, as it starts to rain, Mouse finds shelter…but is it a haunted house? We love that Mouse faces his fears and reveals what’s behind the scary things he thinks he sees and hears. (He’s a goofball, too!) This is perfect for reading on a rainy night or around Halloween and it has plenty of text to set the tone and challenge young readers. Note: this one could be a little too scary for younger siblings so you may want to read through it first if you plan to share with kids younger than 5.

Text copyright © by Judy Cox, Art copyright © by Jeff Ebbeler

Thank you, Book Bears subscribers!

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Book Bears share the love!

We’re excited to have mailed out our first donations, thanks to our Book Bears subscribers! As you know, for each new subscriber that Book Bears receives, we donate a picture book to benefit a child in need. This is all to feed our mission of getting little bears everywhere to fall in love with books!

We’ve chosen to donate our first set of books to The Lisa Libraries. We chose this charity because it focuses solely on kids’ books, just like Book Bears. The charity was started by author Ann M. Martin (of The Babysitter Club fame) and friends to honor and memorialize children’s book editor Lisa Novak. The charity provides books to organizations that work with kids in poor and under-served areas. According to the charity’s website, since its founding in 1990, the Lisa Libraries has contributed over 375,000 books to nonprofit organizations across the country. We’re proud to be contributing our own small part.

Book Bears Read!

Want to donate books to the Lisa Libraries?

Send new, “like new,” or books in very good condition for ages pre-K to young adult, to: The Lisa Libraries, 77 Cornell St, Rm. 109, Kingston, NY 12401.

Diversity in Kids’ Books – What’s the Big Deal?

Imagine growing up and never having read a book that has a main character that looks like you.

What might a child gain from seeing themselves reflected in a story? For the majority of Americans (i.e. white folks), this has never been an issue. For everyone else, it’s much harder than you might think to find a “mirror” of oneself in a children’s book.

In fact, there are some startling statistics that show just how far off the kids’ book industry is from the reflecting the makeup of the USA. In 2013, the publisher Lee and Low Books shared a graphic showing that although 37% of the population of the US are people of color, only 10% of children’s books published contained multicultural content. And they found that this gap had remained steady for almost 2 decades! Data from The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) analyzing the first six months of 2013 backed this up as well. They found that out of 1,509 books published in 2013, 78.3% depicted human characters, and of those, only 124 (or about 10.6%) featured people of color. And those are just the statistics focusing on cultural diversity. When you look at characters with disabilities and other types of diversity, the numbers are even more scant.

But enough about facts. Here’s another scenario:

Imagine growing up and never having read a book featuring a main character of another culture.

What might a child gain from a “window” into another culture or way of life? Reading stamps out ignorance, which can help create tolerance and empathy for our fellow man. So when diverse books are not available in our society, everyone suffers, not just the folks who are “different.” Books reveal not only our differences, but more importantly our commonalities as humans. After all, we all have families and friends we care about, we all have challenges and struggles in our lives, we all have dreams. And we all have stories to tell.

Where can you find diverse books? Check out these resources:

The Children’s Book Council has created a Goodreads page focusing on diversity, where you can search hundreds of diverse children’s and young adult books by age and subject.

WeNeedDiverseBooks.org has a resource page for finding diverse books here.

The Case for Big Kid Picture Books

It breaks our hearts just a little bit when we hear about parents abandoning picture books too soon. There’s a misconception that once kids can read independently and start to devour easy readers and chapter books that they should leave behind picture books forever. There’s also another misconception that picture books are for babies. We’d guess that many of these well-meaning parents just simply don’t know about the breadth of strong picture books that exist for older readers and how these can further the literacy of their children. Don’t get us wrong—we love seeing little bears reading books that challenge and further the development of their vocabularies and critical-thinking skills. What we’re saying is that picture books can do that, too!

We’ve compiled a very short list to show some of the older picture book options that are out there and the potential benefits of reading of these with older kids. And there are so many more!

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Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts is listed for ages 5-7. This book inspires children to dream big and teaches little bears one of life’s most important lessons: You can only fail if you quit. There’s also a great STEM angle here which homeschoolers and educators will appreciate.

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The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith is for ages 5-8. Honestly, kids will want to pick this book up just for the title. But inside is a delightful parody of fairy tales and fairy-tale book design. Guaranteed giggles for the whole family! After reading, have your little create his own fairy tale parody.

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We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson is geared toward ages 8-12 and tells the story of Negro League baseball. This is a hefty, 96-page volume with breath-taking artwork from a renowned artist which brings to life a fascinating piece of sports history.

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Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall is for ages 3-7. This is the true story about the bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh. It’s also a #1 New York Times Bestseller and Winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal.

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We hope you’ve gotten a taste of what the picture book world has to offer. There’s more to picture books than meets the eye, isn’t there?

Book Bears Read!

Book Bears selections

Hello, bears! We’re excited to be sharing our take on some of the recent Book Bears selections. There’s a little something for everyone here (if we do say so!). Happy reading! #GiveaBearaBook #BookBearsRead

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LULU THE BIG LITTLE CHICK by Paulette Bogan

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From the publisher: “Lulu the little chicken is sick of being told she’s too little to do things…so she decides to run away where no one will tell her what to do. And when the horse, and sheep and cow and everyone seem to get in her way, it only makes her more determined. But when she finally gets far far away, what happens when a loud crow scares her? Next time, she’ll take her momma with her!”

Our take: This is a perfect little picture book. It has a strong story arc with a beginning, middle, and end—and an exciting climactic moment. We love that Lulu’s mom gives her just enough freedom to go off on her own, and that the pigs are seen keeping an eye on her throughout. There’s also plenty of gentle humor along Lulu’s journey to “far, far away.” The ending in which Lulu realizes she does need her mother is sweet and satisfying. We’re not surprised that this book won the Children’s Choice Book Award for Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year, the London Book Festival Children’s Book Award, and was given Honorable Mention at the New England Book Festival.

The text and art of the book is © by Paulette Bogan.

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HIDE!!! by Jeff Foxworthy, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman

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From the publisher:On a Saturday morning/ Like many before/ The kids were all restless./ In fact, they were bored./ It had finally stopped raining/ After nearly a week/ Then they had an idea,/ Let’s play hide-and-seek! Comedian Jeff Foxworthy tells the story of a neighborhood hide-and-seek game and invites readers to join in! With vivid illustrations and a hearty dose of silliness, each page includes a hidden child, a seeker, and other objects for kids to find. Can you help Rachel Green find Sue, along with one raccoon, two spoons, three mops, four flip flops? Hide!!! is guaranteed to charm readers of all ages.”

Our take: There are some things that never go out of style—and hide-and-seek is one of them! We love that this book comes with a built-in game with hidden items in the artwork that kids can find and count. The bouncy rhymes are fun for reading aloud, and we think the book can bridge age levels which is why we’ve chosen it for both our age levels. If there’s one qualm we have about the book it’s that there could have been more diversity seen in the characters. But overall, it’s a fun, lighthearted story capturing one of kids’ favorite pastimes.

The book is © by Jeff Foxworthy.

Giveaway alert!

We talked recently about the power of wordless (and almost wordless) picture books. And today we’re giving one away!

Drum roll…

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MR. WUFFLES by the amazing David Wiesner falls into the “almost wordless” category. It has to be one of the strangest picture books we’ve seen – and we mean this in the best way possible. The namesake character is a cat who has discovered a most unusual “toy”: a tiny spaceship (you can see a hint of it in the lower-left corner of the cover). But Mr. Wuffles isn’t the only character in the book. There’s a host of aliens living inside the spaceship, all speaking an alien language. Readers will delight as the aliens discover Mr. Wuffles – and he them. We won’t give away more of the plot, but let’s just say adventure ensues! Don’t be fooled by the low word count; this book is NOT for the youngest picture-book readers. The book is a series of complex panels full of action. We think kids will love coming up with the words as the book progresses, and it may even inspire them to write up more adventures for the aliens.

Did we mention this book won a Caldecott Honor? (The Caldecott Medal is the highest award in the US for picture-book illustration.) We’re serious when we say this book is worth checking out. And when you’re done, check out more of the author’s work. (He’s won so many awards we’ve lost count!)

So how does one enter the giveaway?

Go to www.bookbears.com and wait for the pop-up inviting you to join our email list. Enter your email, and you’ll be in the drawing to win! (No purchase necessary.) And if you’re already on our email list then you’re automatically entered! We’ll choose the lucky winner on Saturday.

Extra bonus: By joining our email list now, you’ll be automatically entered into future Book Bears giveaways! Who doesn’t want free picture books??

Book Bears Read!

 

The art and text for MR. WUFFLES is (c) David Wiesner

The Power of the Wordless Picture Book

Today we’re talking about wordless picture books (and almost-wordless ones). No words, you say? Don’t we want our kids improving their reading skills? Of course we do! We at Book Bears believe there’s no better way to transform little bears into lifelong readers than to captivate them with stories and help them fall in love with books. And this can be achieved effectively through the reading and sharing of wordless books.

After all, just because a picture book doesn’t have words (or has few words) doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of story happening inside it.

In fact, wordless books can be extremely complex, and they often beg for repeat readings in which even more of the story is realized as the reader digests the small details of the artwork and pacing.

But do you want to know the best part about wordless picture books? They inspire a child’s imagination!

In place of an author’s narration, your child becomes the narrator, choosing the words to describe the scenes in the book and deciding where to inject exclamations and when it’s time to turn the page. We can’t think of a better way to get little bears excited about books and reading than to empower them to tell stories. It’s a bonus that they get to flex their vocab muscles along the way. Wordless books can also make for a fantastic introduction into the world of books for the more reluctant readers among our little bears.

There’s been an influx of wordless picture books on the market in recent years (including a spate of big-time award winners), and we couldn’t be happier to see these titles out in the world, inspiring little bears everywhere.

Book Bears Read!

More Book Bears Selections

Today we’re talking about a few more of our picture book selections, so you can see what Book Bears has to offer little bears! We hope you like our picks! As you may already know, our service centers around the joy of story, so we look for engaging storytelling and strong characters that kids will connect with. And these selections are up to the task! Read on to learn a bit more about our recent selections and why we chose them.

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LITTLE LOST COWBOY by Simon Puttock, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church

From the publisher: “Arooo! I’m lost and I’m lonesome!” Poor Cowboy Coyote is alone in the desert. He can’t find his mommy and doesn’t know what to do. He’s tired, sore, wet, and bumped. But then a very nice toad gives the little lost cowboy the best advice of all – stay put, and your mommy will find YOU. With bright illustrations that playfully evoke the American Southwest, this collaboration between rising star Simon Puttock and award-winning Caroline Jayne Church is sure to become a read-aloud favorite.

Our take:

This is a sweet story with echoes of the classic children’s book Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. There’s a lot of nice repetition throughout as Cowboy Coyote goes from place to place, looking for his mother and meeting new animals.

And what kid won’t want to “AROOO!” right along with him?

The art depicts the desert landscape in bright colors and simple shapes, with plenty of unique details. In fact, the landscape is what inspired our book-related activity!

And of course, this book tackles an important subject: what a child should do if they become lost or separated from their parents. Have you had the “getting lost” conversation with your little bear? If not, this book provides an opportunity to start the conversation in a way that’s fun and lighthearted (and not scary!). There’s also nothing wrong with enjoying it purely for the story itself.

The text of the book is © Simon Puttock, and the art is © Caroline Jayne Church.

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RESCUE BUNNIES by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Scott Menchin

From the publisher: Newbie is a Rescue Bunny trainee. She has passed the Physical Fitness Test. She has passed the Emergency Rescue Roping Test. She has even passed the Blind Taste Test. Now it’s time for the toughest Rescue Bunny test of all…the Field Test! It involves a scared giraffe in a sinking mudhole, some hungry hyenas, and dance moves that sneak up on you. Will Newbie have what it takes? The right stuff? Can she handle the truth? One thing is for sure…she will have you at hello.

Our take: This is a great book about perseverance, as Newbie the bunny puts her all into her training to become a “Rescue Bunny.” Most of all, it’s a book about friendship and helping others, as Newbie ends up making a daring rescue—we love that the book has such a well-developed story arc. The author Doreen Cronin is a pro, and Scott Menchin’s art is endearing.

We think kids will have so much reading all the speech bubbles in this book. We also appreciated that Newbie is a female character that both boys and girls will relate to and be rooting for. Our package includes a physical activity inspired by the “rescue” theme.

Bonus for parents: there are some very familiar phrases from popular culture sprinkled throughout. The kids won’t “get” them, but who cares?

The text of the book is © Doreen Cronin, and the art is © Scott Menchin.

And don’t forget: we’re still running our coupon – just a few days left!

Book Bears read!

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