Book Review: Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge

Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge. Illustrated by Lisa Cinar. Groundwork Books, 2016.

Preschool Readers

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

Bear wants to be friends with the other animals in the forest but everytime he comes near they hide. Bear discovers a way to make new friends and show the forest animals he isn’t as scary as he looks.

Bear’s Winter Party is rich in vocabulary. The opening page brings text filled with unique words to enrich your child’s exploding vocabulary.

Bear lived in a forest on the side of a mountain. He felt at home among the trees. He nibbled on sweet wild berries. He sipped cool water from the stream. He breathed in the fresh mountain air.

The author also does a great job of creating word pictures instead of telling the reader how the animals feel.

Wherever he went, Bear heard the other animals talking about him.

“He’s so big!” said Squirrel.

“His claws are long,” said Hare.

“His teeth are sharp,” said Deer.

“His voice makes a rumbling sound,” Said Chickadee.

The author builds through dialog how the animals feel when they encounter the bear. Instead of telling the reader the animals are afraid of bear, she shows through how the talk to each other and how they act around bear. It provides the perfect opportunity to ask questions as you read and create conversation around the story.

The author also includes literary devices such as alliteration (the same starting consonant sound) and assonance (the same ending sounds) to provide a cadence driven text. This type of writing helps young ones hear the sounds that make up words, which helps them learn to decode before they even begin to read.

Before long, the whole group was dancing. Round and round the den they went, swinging and swaying, whirling and twirling, bobbing and bouncing.

And my favorite part is the recipe at the end of the book. Recipes are a great way to build math skills like fractions, number recognition and unique vocabulary. It is a hands on way of learning how to divide and count. It not only helps the story become concrete for your child but it continues learning beyond the page.

Along with all the pre-literacy skills your child will develop with repeated readings of this story, research shows that fiction helps readers gain empathy through others. Most children can relate to being scared of meeting new people, being in new situations, or being scared to make friends. Listening and talking about how Bear solves his problems will help your child be a more compassionate and empathetic friend.

bears-winter-party-text

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

One of the strengths of this book is the conversation created around feelings. After reading the book a few times go back and tell the story by how Bear feels. How he starts out feeling, what he does with those feelings and how he feels at the end of the book. You can also do the same with the forest animals. To continue dialoguing about feelings, draw faces with your child and label underneath each picture how the person feels.

Talk about the pictures on each page. The watercolors are vibrant and full of detail. Point to an object on the page and have your child tell you what she sees. This builds vocabulary.

Because this story takes place in a forest, the end pages are filled with pictures of different types of leaves. Go on a nature walk and see if you can find similar items in your yard or neighborhood. Take leaves home with you and take crayons or pencils and do rubbings of the leaves or trace the shapes.

Make the recipe at the end of the book! Cooking with your children is a great way to build confidence, but also provides an opportunity to point to text on the page and read it to them. They will see how you move across the page and highlight print awareness.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the pictures it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sale.)

 

What are your favorite books about bears? Help others discover new books in the comments below.

HAPPY READING!

 

 

Book Review: Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish

  • Preschool-Age 7
  • Illustrated by Ken Daley
  • Annick Press

 

You may have seen on Facebook, Twitter or other social media the call for publisher’s to produce more diverse books. When I was a children’ librarian in the inner city I struggled to find books that the kids I worked with could relate to. Illustrations skewed towards traditional families and more northern European features. And the multicultural books that were published had heavy themes and mature content that young children would struggle to relate to.

Joseph’s Big Ride is a wonderful book that brings together the universal experience of being a child and the life of a child living as a refugee in camps and in America. All children will respond to the childhood bucket list item of riding a bike. But Farish brings a sensitivity through Joseph’s story of kids who long to participate in this rite of passage but life circumstances have kept them from it. Although it could have been a heavy topic of life as a child refugee, Joseph’s story reminds us we are all children with similar dreams and goals. Instead of differences separating the children it brings them together.

The book is beautifully illustrated with vibrant, rich pictures. As noted on the back cover the illustrations are modeled after the illustrators African-Caribbean roots. The pictures are engaging and draw the reader in along with helping tell the story.

The text is just as beautiful proving that children’s books can be literary works. Farish uses metaphors, similes, alliteration, assonance and more to bring the story to life. The carefully thought out text makes this book the perfect read a loud and, although young kids aren’t ready to write their own rhetorical devices, the repetition of such tools in the books they hear will build future readers and discerning students.

The book builds phonological awareness by using onomatopoeia which is a fun way for kids to hear different sounds that they will use as they learn to sound out words on their own. The strong narrative will build reading comprehension. The vocabulary is sophisticated but also approachable in the text. Your child will walk away with a stronger personal dictionary of words to draw from as they experience the world around them. (What are the 6 pre-literacy skills?)

This is a great book to use as a guide when selecting books with your child at the bookstore or library. Not all books are created equal and what we look for as parents in books are stories that engage our children (and us too!) while helping build the skills that will provide the stepping stones for future reading success.

Happy Reading!

Other Books By this Author: