Thursday, May 3, 2012
baby bear sees blue, written and illustrated by Ashley Wolff. Simon & Schuster, 2012. $18.99 ages 2 and up
an opening slowly fills with light.
A glow creeps in.
"Who is warming me, Mama?"
asks Baby Bear.
"That is the sun," Mama says.
Baby Bear sees yellow."
I was delighted to read on the back flyleaf that Ashley Wolff has always had a soft spot for Mama and Baby Bear in Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal. This lovely story took some of its inspiration from that story. I have read that story more times than I can count, and it maintains a constant spot of my list of all time favorites. That is due to the feelings it evokes of shared bedtime reading with my own kids, story time in kindergarten and sharing personal favorites in workshops with teachers, parents and librarians. Now, I have another favorite to add to that list!
Baby Bear is a delight, as most toddlers can be! He awakens in his mother's embrace to sunlight and a day filled with questions. How else to learn about his world, most notably the colors? His curiosity and wonder engage he and his mother in the world that is his neighborhood. Everything is new, and worthy of that wonder. We wander with the two as they explore the many small adventures that make up a young cub's day. Always protected, ever curious, with a Mama who is endlessly patient, Baby Bear takes in these new lessons with ebullience.
The illustrations that Ashley Wolff has created to accompany this grand adventure are stunning. She printed lino blocks in black on Arches Cover paper; then hand colored them with watercolor to give a sense of energetic enjoyment of all things in Baby Bear's world. Readers will find so many images to hold their attention, and many small details to discover. A mouse discretely watches the dark opening of the bears' cave, blue jays sing a song for Baby Bear, a grasshopper cautiously keeps watch and brilliant red strawberries tempt taste buds. Mama's tender looks and Baby Bear's excitement are evident on every color washed spread.