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Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Alfred A. Knopf, Random House. 2015. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"By the time the bear
opened his eyes, the
buzzing had become a
rumbling. He was being
quickly swept along like
a leaf in a great river.
The forest disappeared
in the distance and high
cliffs rose up around him."

I had great fun reading this in school classrooms while celebrating I Love to Read month!
The kids were wanting to stop me at every turn to tell me that the story in the artwork was quite different from what they were hearing with their ears. Isn't that the best thing about read aloud sessions with your own children and in classrooms? I love it when an author/illustrator can turn a tale on its ear, and delightfully entertain an audience. So, this book is 'spot on' for me!

We have a narrator, who wants to ensure that we know EXACTLY what happened to our sandwich. We know from the 'get-go' that the bear is totally responsible. It begins in a verdant forest with a bear enjoying the brilliant day, and becoming even more excited when a nearby truck emits an irresistible aroma. The berries in the back fill his belly, and prompt a morning nap right where he is.

Without the bear knowing it (because he is sleeping soundly), the truck begins a journey that is meant to take its cargo to a farmer's market in the city. The bear considers this place 'a new forest', and so many adventures arise. Everything is new, and undiscovered for the bear. We are witness to his exploration. A park bench holds a brand new taste treat; the sandwich is devoured in seconds! Only then does the bear hear unfamiliar sounds and realize that someone has seen him eat it. Surprised and embarrassed, he runs off and eventually makes his way home.

Turn the page and the identity of the narrator is revealed, and a full-fledged explanation provided. The real culprit is now evident!

Now, go back and read it again if you want to see the many clues that the artist imparts as the story unfolds. While doing so you will be able to immerse yourself in the wonderfully textured acrylic and pencil artwork, full of sunshine, movement and understated humor. There is so much to see on its pages, and to linger over as you share it repeatedly. I just looked carefully at the endpapers front and back ... mmm! Hungry! I am off to make myself some lunch. Preferably, a sandwich that no one else will eat!                                                                              

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