…storytime, books, and ideas

Posts tagged ‘bears’

Bears in books

baby bearSome years you notice mini-trends in books. Ninjas. Water tanks of the New York skyline. Oceans. Yetis. And then there are the constants. Bedtime. Animals that say the wrong thing. Alphabet books. And BEARS. Always, there are bears.

Why bears? In some cultures, the bear signifies strength, courage, and power. A bear can seem very human-like, walking on two legs, catching food with those hand-like paws. In heraldry, the bear can mean strength, cunning, healing, and bravery. There’s mama bear, protecting her cub at all costs. Humans just seem to love and revere the bear.

This year, there are several bear books that made me take note. If you read this blog regularly, you already know my love for Finding Winnie. The Bear Ate your Sandwich is getting a lot of love, and I do like that surprise ending as well as the illustrations. There’s a little toy bear in Kevin Henkes’ Waiting, another of my favourites this year. These books are already winning some of the Mock Caldecott elections being held.

from "Bear & Bunny"

from “Bear & Bunny”

Have you seen Bear and Bunny, by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand? Pinkwater can certainly tell a fine story, and this one has just the right amount of absurdity for my tastes. Hillenbrand wryly extends the characters with a pastel palette of mixed-media, creating the perfect world for these fine friends. And in Lily and Bear, Lisa Stubbs brings child-like drawings to life with another friendship tale.

Want more bears? For the sheer “awwwww” factor, try Kadir Nelson’s Baby Bear. Those eyes get the crowd every time. I shared this book with older kids who just gushed over those giant baby bear eyes. Nelson also uses moonlight in the most amazing ways in this book. Because I am fascinated with Medieval manuscripts, I just adore Brother Hugo and the Bear. Try this one with older elementary aged kids who can appreciate a good story. A bear who eats books? Of course they will be intrigued.

three bearsIf you enjoy literary allusions in your picture books, test out the waters with Three Bears in a Boat, by David Soman. Find hints of Moby Dick, Huck Finn, and Where the Wild Things Are in this tale of three naughty bears who break their mother’s prized shell and adventure out to replace it.

What are your favourite bear books? This year has seen plenty of new bear books, I only named a few. Share your favs in the comments!

Picture Book Month, Week 3

winnieThis week I am focusing on one book — Finding Winnie: The true story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, published by Little, Brown, & Company. It is not necessarily a storytime book, but I am smitten by it, so here goes.

Look at that cover. The soldier’s leg could be a tree trunk that the little bear is clinging to. And on the back cover, a teddy bear dangling from a pajama-clad child’s hand– nearly the opposite image, yet connected.  Now: move to the end pages. We open the book to the woods. Page turn, and on the title page, the woods view is larger, and there’s that little bear. Page turn, and we are in a room– a room that reminds us of the woods, and maybe a little bit of Max’s room, which turned iwinnie1nto the woods.

winnie2 winnie3And now, it is “Could you tell me a story?” And what a great story it is. Told by the great-granddaughter of Captain Harry Colebourn, this is a perfect story to highlight some Canadian history (which, let’s admit, gets left in the background so very often!). Not only is the story itself endearing, Sophie Blackall’s illustrations make it just, well, squeezable. (Like a teddy bear.) The color palette is just right for the tone of the story, and the page layouts are varied, keeping the visual interest as high as the textual interest. There’s plenty of movement to keep the eye busy, but not so much that it overpowers. I appreciate the differing perspectives, the touching moments that never feel too saccharine, and the wrap up with the family album.

And the marching soldiers in silhouette under the paper cover, well that wraps it up nicely for me. Take a look at this book– it works on so many levels. What a beautiful choice to share for Picture Book Month!

So many books!

For my first post in 2013, I have a huge stack of books to share. Here are some really fun books that just went out on our shelves!

Chu’s Daa chu'say by Neil Gaiman

A little panda with a big sneeze is the premise of this fun little book. Play-on-words and quirky illustrations make this one a delight to share at storytime.

Squeak Rumble Whomp Whomp Whomp: Sonic Adventure by Wynton Marsalis

A noisy romp through the sounds around us. Make lots of sounds while reading this music-inspired book. Get the kids to chime in with their own sounds; make some shakers, drums, etc.  and get moving around the room!

I am So Handsome by Mario Ramos

The Big Bad Wolf is so full of himself that he does not even realize that his usual targets are afraid of him. This twist on the old icon is filled with wonderful language and great new vocabulary. Share along with a Red Riding Hood and 3 Pigs story, or pair with Jon Scieszka’s True Story of the Three Little Pigs for a wild wolf romp.

I’m NOT Sleepy by Jane Chapman

Little owl wants to play, but Grandma insists it is time for bed. She gives him a snack, tucks him in, and still he is wide awake. There’s not much new here in the plot line, but the illustrations are cute and the repeated phrase of “Hop, jump, flutter,  flump” will be fun to say with the kids. Teach them this phrase beforehand and add some TALKing to your early literacy storytime.

Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson

Two little polar bear cubs meet and become friends. Short enough for toddler storytimes, and the illustrations are large and friendly. Good vocabulary builder for little ones. See also Polar Bear Night by same author/illustrator.

All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep by Crescent Dragonwagon aa all the awake

Not only do I love this author’s name, I love the alliteration in this book. It is a bedtime alphabet book chock full of letter sounds. Add in the big list of new vocabulary and David McPhail’s quiet illustrations, and you have a perfect addition to your next pajama storytime.  A big dose of early literacy!



The Reader by Amy Hest

A charming story of a boy, a dog, some snow, and a book. A gentle story to end storytime with.

Beach Feet by Kiyomi Knoagaya

Warm up your winter with a visit to this sunny beach. The illustrations are full of movement and, of course, feet.

Railroad Hank by Lisa Moser

Hank and his train are off to visit Granny Bett who is feeling blue. His misunderstandings send the whole gang up the mountain, along with some chickens, cows, apple trees and a pond. Of course Granny cheers up, and everyone has a grand time. The repeated refrain of “Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Woo Woo Woo” will get kids interacting with the story.aa mice

Mice  by Rose Fyleman

Lois Ehlert’s signature illustrations turn this slight poem into a fun picture book. The rhymes will reinforce phonological awareness, and the paper collage illustrations are just begging to be imitated. Would also make a great writing prompt book for early elementary classrooms.

About  a Bear by Holly Surplice

This simple ode to a bear is just right for baby and toddler storytimes, and would be a good book for those just learning to read. Bright, large pictures accompany this bouncy bear rhyme.


Ostrich and Lark by Marilyn Nelsonaa ostrich

An original tale illustrated by artists in Botswana. Two bird friends in the African veld spend their days and nights together. Lark sings, but ostrich is silent, until he finds his voice. Simple story with bright folk-art paintings to spice it up. Pair with an ostrich sound and some African folk tales. Lots of new vocabulary here, too!

A Kiss Like This by Mary Murphy

Perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day of the year. A sweet little book about… kisses! Smooch it up for storytime with babies and toddlers.

Let’s Sing a Lullaby with Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas

Not-so-brave cowboy gets distracted as he tries to serenade a couple of cows to sleep. As expected, Thomas delivers a fun romp, this time about bedtime.


Summer storytime

Summer is a very busy time here at the library, and new books are coming in every day! Here are my choices for some summertime storytime fun!

Up, Tall, and High by Ethan Long

Young listeners and early readers will learn some directional concepts as well as be delighted with this fun little book. A collection of cartoon birds demonstrate the meanings of the concepts of tall, high, and up- -with flaps that make the book interactive. You’ll be building VOCABULARY when you share this short chapter book.

Can YOU Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas

This one was published in 2009, so not really new, but it is new to my Storytime Bookshelf. Jan Thomas is the Queen of Silly for storytime. Turn up the volume and get out your craziest voice and read this book while acting out the zany storyline. Add some physical activity to your storytime with this ladybug that tries to scare away a great big, scary… frog!

No Bears by Meg McKinlay

The illustrations are a detailed, so this book may be best for small groups. But small groups will enjoy this slightly fractured fairy tale, especially when you alert them to watch for bears. Pairs nicely with Silly Doggy! and a rousing version of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”. 

Cock-a-Doodle Do, Creak, Pop Pop, Moo by Jim Aylesworth

Just the title is fun to say! An old-fashioned farm romp with lots of rhymes and a fun rhythm. Would go nicely with Duck on a Bike by David Shannon.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie? by Mo Willems

It is headline news! A new Mo Willems book is reason enough to plan a storytime. This time, Duckling and Pigeon teach a gentle lesson about manners (well, Duckling is gentle. Pigeon is his usual wild self). Yes, Duckling gets a cookie. How? You’ll have to read to find out. Be prepared for repeated readings. Pair this with Pat Hutchins’ The Doorbell Rang and Laura Numeroff’s  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for a fun cookie-themed storytime.

Lady Hahn and her Seven Friends by Yumi Heo

For groups that are a bit older or can sit for a longer story, this is a great folk tale from Korea. Her friends, Mrs. Ruler, Newlywed Scissors, Young Bride Needle, Young Bride Red Thread, Old Lady Thimble, Young Lady Flatiron, and Little Miss Iron help her with her sewing, but when they start to brag, she turns her back on them only to discover how much she needs them. Pair it with a sewing craft for a really fun storytime.

Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower

A girl finds a dog (bear) and really wants to keep him as a pet. This is a sweet little story that would be fun for summer storytimes, and would pair nicely with No Bears! by Meg McKinlay. Create some “Lost Dog” posters for craft time and you’ll add writing skills into the storytime stew.

Great Sheep Shenanigans by Peter Bently

The rhymes are funny and though sometimes a bit forced, the ending with a wolf in poo is certain to elicit giggles. This wolf is a full-blooded meat eater, so make sure your audience is ready for jokes about lamb stew (and vindaloo). Vocabulary and rhyming skills abound.

Pete the cat and his four groovy buttons by Eric Litwin

Pete is back, this time singing about buttons. Prepare for an earworm when you listen to the song  HERE and sing it with your group. This one adds MATH to the storytime equation in a very fun way.  

Two Little Monkeys by Mem Fox 

Toddlers will enjoy the sing-song rhymes and repetition in this simple story and you’ll be giving them a great little Early Literacy experience. Read it again to reinforce the fun learning!


Flannel Friday- The bear’s pajamas

Time to dream big, bear! Here’s a story that is super easy to make, but does require some memorizing to tell. But once you do it a few times, it really is a fun story. I can’t recall where I found this story, but here it is:

The Bear’s Pajamas:
It was nearly winter and Papa Bear was grouchy as an old bear can be when it is close to bedtime. The only reason Papa Bear was still up at all was that Mama Bear was sewing him a new pair of winter pajamas, and they were not finished. Now Mama Bear was tired and sleepy too, and wished she had the pajamas all done by now, but Papa bear could not decide what colour he wanted!

Papa Bear grumbled and groused and growled his way down to the sewing room where Mama Bear was working. She merely sniffed when he came in, and kept on sewing. She cut out a red top and red pants. (place pieces on board)

Red pieces, all wrong...

But because Papa Bear was making so much noise grumbling and grousing and growling, Mama Bear could not concentrate. She sewed the LEFT arm where the RIGHT leg should be. (place pieces). Then she sewed the RIGHT arm where the LEFT leg should be. (place pieces) And the LEFT leg where the RIGHT arm should be and the RIGHT leg where the LEFT leg should be. (place pieces)

And then she showed the pajamas to Papa Bear, but they were all wrong!
Papa Bear grumbled and groused and growled. And Mama Bear said, “Get out! Go pick some berries while I fix these pajamas!!”

So Papa Bear left, grumbling and grousing and growling, and Mama Bear took off the wrong arms and the wrong legs. (remove pieces)

“Now what am I going to do?” she said. “I don’t have enough red fabric to make more arms and legs.” So she started looking around her sewing room. She found a scrap of blue material, and she mad a LEFT arm out of it and sewed it where the LEFT arm should go. (place piece)

She found a scrap of green material and made a RIGHT arm out of it and sewed it where the RIGHT arm should go. (place piece)

She found a scrap of yellow material and made a LEFT leg out of it and sewed it where the LEFT leg should go. (place piece)

She found a scrap of purple material and made a RIGHT leg out of it and sewed it where the RIGHT leg should go. (place piece)

groovy PJ's, all fixed!

All that sewing was just finished when Papa Bear returned from his walk. When Mama Bear showed him the pajamas, he was so surprised that he dropped his bucket of berries. “Why, Mama Bear, those are the best pajamas I have ever seen! And they are just the right colour!

So: you need red felt, and I used black felt and fabric scraps to make the colourful legs and arms. The pieces are pretty simple, I just made these up by hand. Use whatever colour of fabric you have, and make the story fit to that.

Today’s Round-Up is hosted by Rain Makes Applesauce.

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