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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bear in Love, written by Daniel Pinkwater and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2012. $19.00 ages 3 and up

"The bear left the honeycomb on the flat rock. He watched from the mouth of his cave. He wanted to see who came to the flat rock. He wanted to see who had left him the nice things. He wanted to see who came, and he wanted to see the friend find the honeycomb."

Yesterday, Candlewick Press launched their new We Believe in Picture Books celebration at Be sure to visit EVERY DAY -  ALL YEAR LONG to watch videos extolling the lifelong benefits that come from sharing picture books! You can even send one in yourself.

I am going to launch September with a new book from this impressive publishing house. Many of my all-time favorite books come from them, and I have been singing their praises in columns, workshops, and on my blog as often as I see one of their new and wonderful books. Bravo to Candlewick for the amazing work they do each publishing season!

Who wouldn't want to cozy up to the bear you see before us? He is a very happy bruin, content with his den, the morning sun and his ability to feed himself.  He is thus surprised to awaken one morning to find something 'orange and long and pointy and had green bushy leaves on one end' near his cave entrance. It tastes good and it puts him in an even happier mood than usual. In fact, it inspires a song:
"Very good, very good
Very good indeed
Very good, yum yum yum
Very good indeed."

You know you are going to love him! Every day the same thing happens...each day, the number of crunchy treats grows and Bear begins to wonder who is leaving them. He decides to return the favor with a chunk of honeycomb (he is longing to meet his benefactor). Alas, sleep intrudes. Each gift he leaves is taken and replaced with something new. It's a mystery.

Daniel Pinkwater writes a perfect story for young listeners; choosing just the right words and phrases for them. Bear's songs are sure to evoke memories of Winnie the Pooh and his gentle little ditties that are always so appealing. He uses dialogue that will satisfy his audience. He celebrates the senses as we wander with Bear in search of food, his mysterious good Samaritan, and a reciprocal treat.

Will Hillenbrand's mixed media art is just right for this warm and gentle story. He brings such joy to the telling in his soft-edged, rosy-cheeked Bear. He is the picture of contentment and so, it is no surprise when he warmly welcomes a new friend. There is a sense of peace and comfort on every page.  We come away from the reading feeling the same...and that is a special book. In fact, it's 'extra special'!

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