Book review: Bear and Squirrel are Friends, by Deb Pilutti

Pilutti, Deb. Bear and Squirrel are Friends. Simon & Schuster, 2015. 36 pgs. $17.99. ISBN 9781481429139. Ages PreS-Grade 1. P5Q6

Bear and Squirrel are friends, even though other animals are worried and surprised about it. They have fun together, and there is some nice humor in their times together. There is a moment of worry that the other friends are right to be concerned when bear is hungry, but it ends up to be a humorous lesson. Graphics are colorful and simple, but enjoyable.

VERDICT: Youngsters will probably enjoy this simple tale of friendship. It is a decent middle of the road offering with a lesson in being a good friend.

April 2019 review by Lynne Wright.

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Book review: Knock Knock, by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Guy Francis

Sauer, Tammi. Knock Knock. Illustrated by Guy Francis. Scholastic Press, 2018. $16.99. ISBN 9781338116946. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P8Q7

A sleepy bear goes to bed, trying to get settled for hibernation. A series of people bang on his door, each with a terrible knock knock joke. We eventually see that it is a plan- it’s a party for bear from his friends, who will miss him during the winter. I thought the illustrations really made the book work. Bear’s face is so expressive, and the rich colors and funny details make you look to see if you’re missing anything.

VERDICT: This will be a popular read-aloud book- maybe not for bedtime, but when parents want to have some fun interaction with their kids.

March 2019 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Mad, Mad Bear!, by Kimberly Gee

Gee, Kimberly. Mad, Mad Bear! Beach Lane Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781481449717. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7 Q7

Bear gets mad because he has to leave the park first, then he gets an owie on the way home and has to leave his boots and favorite stick outside. He doesn’t feel it is fair and he gets mad! After he throws a tantrum, he takes a deep breath, has a snack and takes a nap. When Bear wakes up, he feels better. Simple text and large illustrations follow Bear as he goes through the process of getting mad and calming down. Some words are red and large, emphasizing them. Illustrations show Bear’s facial expressions, giving the listener clues to how Bear is feeling. The book is designed to be read to small children.

Verdict: If you have child who gets mad often, this book will provide some simple strategies and show that they can recover from their mad feelings. I recommend this book for small children and public libraries.

November 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Journey of the Pale Bear, by Susan Fletcher

Fletcher, Susan. Journey of the Pale Bear. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018. $16.99. 280p. ISBN 978-1-5344-2077-9. Ages 11-13. P8Q9

In 1252, 12-year-old Arthur, bullied and abused by his stepbrothers and stepfather, runs away from his farm in Norway to seek his birthright in Wales. Caught stealing food, his only escape is to care for a “pale bear” that the King Haakon IV of Norway is sending as a gift to King Henry III of England. Thus begins the magical journey when Arthur, forced into the bear’s cage, bonds with the terrifying animal, surviving attacks by pirates, a shipwreck, and allegiance with the creature.

Verdict: The realism of the relationship of Arthur with the bear successfully combines with the fantasy as Arthur is capable of safely connecting with the creature that should have killed him in this exciting adventure based on factual information about the English king’s menagerie. Believable plot twists and characterization in lyrical writing provide resolution as Arthur struggles to find his way in a perilous world.

Fall 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Archie and the Bear, by Zanni Louise and David Mackintosh

Louise, Zanni and David Mackintosh. Archie and the Bear. Clarion Books, 2018. Unpaged. $17.99. ISBN 9781328973412. Ages 3-6. P7Q7

“I am a bear,” says Archie when people compliment him on his bear suit.  Tired of explaining himself, Archie heads out into the woods, where he meets a large, hairy, bear-like animal who says, “I am a boy.”  The two teach each other boy and bear skills until the dark and cold send them both home to Archie’s house for honey sandwiches.

Verdict:  Unfortunately, while the bold black and red illustrations of the self-identified boy are very clear, Archie’s depiction as a very small creature means that the details of the bear suit become indistinct.  Also, the title, Archie and the Bear, call the entire story into question before the book is even opened.  Still, this will be a good introduction to conversations about self-identity versus societally reinforced and recognized identities as well as a way to begin a conversation about transgender issues. Recommended for kindergarten through preschool and public library collections.

November 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Don’t Eat That!, by Drew Sheneman

Sheneman, Drew. Don’t Eat That! Penguin Random House LLC, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781101997291. Unpaged. Ages 3-5. P7Q6   

A young Girl Scout, Gertie, is on a quest to earn a merit badge and meets a hungry brown bear, recently displaced by the local zoo. Gertie quickly learns that teaching a bear how to eat appropriate food is hard work and searches for an easier animal to assist. Gertie and the bear work on their own without success and find themselves together again. She realizes the that kindness and helping others is more important than her merit badge quest. They team up and find successful ways to catch and eat food. It is a simple story with a lovable bear and pun-loving Girl Scout. Illustrations are digitally painted, set in a graphic novel style, and use bold colors to engage the young reader.

Verdict: Young readers will love the bear’s antics and enjoy hearing humorous dialogue between Gertie and the bear, although vocabulary, puns, and inferences might have to be explained to the projected audience. It will be a good addition to any K-2 classroom or library read aloud lesson on friendship, perseverance, and/or teamwork.

September 2018 review by Marcy Doyle.

Book review: Albert’s Tree, by Jenni Desmond

Desmond, Jenni. Albert’s Tree. Candlewick Press, 2016. $15.99. ISBN 9780763696887. Unpaged. Ages 3-8. P7Q7

Do you have a favorite tree? Well, Albert, a bear, does, and after a long winter’s nap he can’t wait to get back to it. However, something is different. Albert’s tree is crying. This sweet story follows Albert and his forest friends as they try to cheer the tree up. When nothing works, Albert is ready to try one last idea, he hugs his tree. In the calm the hug brings, Albert gets a big surprise: it’s not the tree that is crying, it is an owl in the tree. The two become friends, which makes the tree twice as good.

VERDICT: I can see this book being used in a classroom to talk about friends, and how friends can come in all shapes and sizes.

May 2018 review by Denyse Marsh.