School Library Journal
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K-Gr 2-Before hunkering down to hibernate, Bear wants to share a story with his friends, but Mouse, Duck, Frog, and Mole are too busy with their own winter preparations to listen. Months later, Bear wakes up and is eager to reunite with his pals and finally tell his tale. He "clear[s] his throat," "puff[s] out his chest," and then, much to his chagrin, forgets what he wants to say. His friends offer prompts that jog his memory: "Maybe your story is about a bear," "Maybe your story is about the busy time just before winter," "there should be other characters too." In lovely circular fashion, the ending has Bear sitting on a log beginning his story that readers will remember as the first sentence of the book. Erin Stead's exquisite pencil and watercolor illustrations capture the beauty of the changing landscape with falling leaves, first snowflakes, and starry evenings. Bear's nurturing acts of kindness are also conveyed, from raising a paw to check the wind direction as Duck flies away to gently tucking Frog under a warm blanket of leaves and pine needles. The rhythms of nature and of storytelling are in fine form here.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Big, furry bears abound in children's books, but Erin Stead's is especially soulful. It might be the way his eyebrows furrow with concern, or the way he leans forward to hear what his friends are saying. Bear wants to tell a story, but his friends Mouse, Duck, Frog, and Mole are busy preparing for winter. (Mole is already asleep, in a den so deep the book has to be turned sideways to view it.) Instead, Bear offers help to his friends. Helpfulness in picture books can teach a moral lesson or it can let readers imagine luxuriating in that tender care themselves. This collaboration, which follows the Steads' Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee, is of the second sort. Bear raises a great paw to check the wind for Duck and tucks Frog tenderly into his hole. When winter passes, the animals are reunited, but Bear has forgotten his story; now it's his friends' turn to help him. The quiet suggestion that no one has all the answers is just one of the many pleasures the Steads give readers. Ages 2-6. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
The title says it all, but as luck would have it, Mouse, Duck, Frog, and Mole are all too busy preparing for the approaching winter to listen to Bear's tale. He decides the story can wait and helps his woodland friends with their preparations, before settling in for a long winter's nap. Come springtime, Bear gathers the gang and waits until just the right moment to begin his story if only he could remember what it was! Not to worry, his friends have real-life suggestions that bring the narrative satisfyingly full circle. The creators of the Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee (2010) offer another charming story about the reciprocal nature of friendship, this time set against the backdrop of the changing seasons and showing how different animals cope with wintry weather. Despite the chilly subject matter, Stead's illustrations have a cozy, quiet feel that is enlivened by Bear's expressive countenance, which has just the right touch of adorable pudge. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A follow-up to a Caldecott winner is always cause for much curiosity and excitement, and this will be no exception.--McKulski, Kristen Copyright 2010 Booklist