Monday, August 11, 2008

Book Review: Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle, ill. Matt Phelan

Book: Very Hairy Bear
Author: Alice Schertle
Illustrator: Matt Phelan
Published: 2007

The very hairy bear has so much to do! In the spring, he fishes, in the summer, he hunts for honey, in the fall, he eats blueberries. And through it all, he doesn’t mind getting water, honey, or blueberries all over his hairy bear body, or his no-hair nose. But what about the wintertime?

What I loved first about this book was Matt Phelan’s bear, who is very hairy indeed. Done in soft pastels, the bear has a whimsical grin and enough flyaways on his shaggy bear coat to drive a hairdresser to drink. The bear’s world is also rendered in soft, lovely colors that express the beauty of nature.

On to the words, which match the gentle illustrations perfectly. While many picture books like to use a rhythmic rhyming style, a la Dr. Seuss, Schertle chooses internal rhymes and lots of alliteration, so that it flows like free verse. Check this one out:
Each summer,
he’s a sticky, licky honey hunter
with his bare nose deep
in the hollow of
a bee tree.
This is such a soothing book. With the repetition of words like “hairy bear” and “no-hair nose,” and with the winter hibernation at the end, use this for a bedtime story that will put your little one (hairy or not) right to sleep.

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