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Friday, March 19, 2010

Very Hairy Bear, written by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Matt Phelan. Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2007. $17.95 ages 2 and up

"Each summer,
he's a sticky, licky honey hunter,
with his bare nose deep
in the hollow of
a bee tree."

We could call it a bear book. We could even call it a book about the seasons. Or, we could say that it is a beautifully illustrated picture book, written by an brilliant wordsmith. Each would be entirely true! Alice Schertle is a master writer and poet...I look forward to every single thing she writes. She never disappoints.

This warm, shaggy bear begs to be hugged from the moment of meeting. He ambles along the spring-green path, on the lookout for the river and the salmon it promises. Once his tummy is full of fish and the summer sun shines its light, our friend is off in search of honey and blueberries to add girth and contentment. A bear is always hungry and fall is fraught with goodies to help him prepare for his winter rest. As snowflakes dot the sky, he contemplates the whereabouts of the fish, the bees and the squirrels who fed his need for food; then, he hunkers down in his shaggy beasrskin coat, covers his nose and settles to sleep for the long, cold winter.

On our journey through the seasons we are privy to exquisite language, the warmth and comfort of Matt Phelan's charming pastel and pencil drawings and a begs-to-be-read-aloud story. I want to read it again and again...and I can't get enough of the sun-filled, colorful images that explode off the page with wonder and wit.

When Erin left to live a full and happy life in Victoria she asked me to make her a promise about the books that were going to take up space on our bookshelves. She asked me to be sure they were only kept if they were 'tens'! This lovely book has found a permanent space on those shelves and will always be a 'ten' for me!

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