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Friday, November 6, 2015

Welcome Home, Bear: A Book of Animal Habitats, written and illustrated by Il Sung Na. Alfred A. Knopf, Random House. 2015. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"He paid a visit
to Orangutan,
but it rained
and rained
and rained.

He decided
to find the
hippos, but
there was mud

Having a home that exactly suits you is a most important thing ... for every single one of us. Bear is not so sure of that sentiment when he wakes up each morning in the same place with nothing new to see or celebrate. He decides to find greener pastures.

Checking out the homes of other animals proves to be an interesting lesson in life. His first visit is a bit of a climb for him, and unsuccessful as he never does make it to Bird's nest. Maybe below ground will be better. He has powerful claws, but dirt in his nose and the lack of wide open spaces are definitely deterrents to an underground lifestyle. Mountain Goat's lofty home produces vertigo and a fervent wish to be back on solid ground; no cliffside existence for Bear, thank you very much.

Under the water with Octopus proves to be too deep, and so it goes with Bear also exploring the North, the desert, the rainforest, and a river mudbath. None suits his sensibility; but, he learns a great deal about himself:

"He wanted to be somewhere that was
not too high,
not too stuffy,
not too steep,
not too deep,
not too cold, hot, rainy, or muddy ...
He knew just where he wanted to be."

It's a worthy lesson, I think.

The art for this book about home and habitats was 'created by combining handmade painterly textures with digitally generated layers which were then compiled in Adobe Photoshop.' In doing so, Il Sung Na has designed a book that is sure to appeal to the young children who will share it. The various habitats are made clear in cleverly designed double page spreads. Bear is an appealing character whose expressions show the unsavory discoveries made as he searches for a 'better place' in the world.

There really is no place like home!


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