Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 10/15/2012 *Starred Review* The creators of The Great Blue House (2005) and Fox (2007) are as adept as any at presenting the wonders of the natural world to preschoolers. In this cozy and deceptively simple story, a toddler and his mother cuddle up at bedtime to read a favorite picture book about a black bear as it prepares for winter, hibernates in its den, and then emerges in springtime. Banks provides details about hibernation and winter’s many changes in both descriptive, child-friendly text and the resulting conversation between adult and child as they make their way through the book. Although the focus of this atmospheric story is seemingly on the big black bear, the book is just as much a celebration of the shared-reading experience, from sitting close and discussing the story to exploring the illustrations to noting the book’s sensory features. Hallensleben’s rich, impressionistic artwork moves seamlessly between warm domestic scenes of the pair reading and vibrant natural landscapes with plenty of seasonal detail. With its quiet, gentle tone, this is perfect for one-on-one bedtime reading as well as for introducing hibernation, sleep cycles, and seasonal change, but the engaging, double-spread pictures will please crowds, too. - Copyright 2012 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 10/01/2012 PreS—In this deceptively simple bedtime story, a boy snuggles up with his mother to read his favorite book. It is about a bear going to sleep for the winter, and together they look at the pictures and talk about the text. "'Do bears really sleep all winter long?' asked the boy." He turns the page and notices the snow. "'Snow is cold,' he said." His mother reads some more about the sleeping bear, and animals in winter, and children gliding across the ice on a frozen lake. "'I'd like to skate,' said the boy." Page by page, the bear sleeps while life goes on around him, but this book is about much more than that. With great subtlety, this mother and child are modeling the perfect way to share a picture book, cuddling up and allowing time to examine the pictures, talk about the concepts, and point out the known and unknown. Actions in the book within the book are internalized by the boy, demonstrating a fundamental aspect of reading comprehension: "A fox drank from a pond. 'I'm thirsty,' said the little boy." As with previous bedtime books by these fine collaborators, short simple sentences create a tranquil, soothing air, while the lush textured oil paintings fill the pages with dense color. But the most valuable thing about this gem might be that it demonstrates a best practice, to the benefit of children and parents alike.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library - Copyright 2012 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 12/01/2012 A boy falls asleep listening to his mother read aloud his favorite book about a hibernating black bear in this somnolent and cozy meta-narrative. The leisurely pace suits the story’s bedtime setting, as does the quiet voice of the narrative. Banks also ably captures the physical pleasures—touching the edges and pages of a favorite book, looking for hidden details in illustrations, leaning against one’s mother while she reads aloud—of sharing a beloved book together before bed: “The boy held the book. He listened to the sound the pages made when he turned them back and forth. ‘Shh,’ he said to the sleeping bear.” This story may have more resonance for the adult reading it aloud than the child listening to it, but many kids will relate to the familiar delight of hearing a favorite book read to them again and again. Hallensleben’s paintings add further substance and warmth, with their heavy brushstrokes of burnished gold, red, and brown set off by icy blue and white tones that emphasize the cold of the hibernating bear’s story. The snug depiction of the almost stuffed-animal-like black bear asleep in his den and the contrast between the bear’s cold winter and the boy’s warm bed will engage viewers just as it clearly does the protagonist. This would of course make a fine bedtime story; it might also be interesting to use as a catalyst for discussion about the love of books and reading. JH - Copyright 2012 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.