Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Children’s Book Review, Bear Make Den

Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson,

Bear Make Den is a children’s picture book, written by Jane Godwin and Michael Wagner, illustrated by Andrew Joyner and published by Allen and Unwin (2016).

From the publisher:

Bear is great with his hands, but not so smart when it comes to relationships. If he fixes up his den, will everything else follow?

Bear loves to get things done. He can make just about anything! He even builds a wonderful den. But something is missing. What could it be?

From this talented trio comes a warm, playful picture book about what truly makes a home.

Bear won my heart at first sight and sound. We see him setting to with a will, carving a den out of a mountain with shovel and hard work. He has a book too: How Make Den. From the first pages, readers notice that while Bear is enterprising, he’s a man of few words. He realises that “Den not done” and attempts several projects until finally he concludes that what the den needs is more bears. So he puts a sign outside, appealing to bear psychology: “CAKe + GamE” and hollers: “Den need bears!”

The partnership of Godwin, Wagner and Joyner is inspired. The story is deceptively simple, but Bear’s enthusiasm and can-do attitude come through clearly. Joyner’s illustrations zing with cartoon-style humour and show us the details of all Bear’s projects. Lots to discuss with kids!

The wonderful side benefit of having a main character who uses few words is that it makes the book perfect for memorising by young readers. I can imagine kids “reading” Bear Make Den to all who will take time to listen. The benefit? Children cementing a love of books and taking another step along the path to reading. And…this charming children’s picture book will leave kids and adults sporting a bear-sized grin. Must read!

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