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Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Bear Report, written and illustrated by Thyra Heder. Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2015. $21.95 ages 4 and up

"I'm actually short for my age!
My name is Olafur.
I'm Sophie.
Would you like to see
where I live, Sophie?
Um, no thanks.
I've seen pictures.

It's better in person.
There is NOTHING here!"

Here's another book that was a huge success while I was reading for I Love to Read in local schools. One of the things I miss most since retiring is the daily sharing of the books I love with keen listeners who share that love of story. It was a real honor to see their responses to the stories I read.

Would that all required reports happened the way Sophie's report on the Arctic happened. It started out pretty bland and boring:


Since we are learning about the Arctic this week,
 please find three facts about polar bears that you
would like to share with the class."

As expected with such a request, Sophie's response is equally uninspired:

"1. they are big
2. they eat things
3. They are mean"

Television holds much more appeal in light of the assignment the little girl has been given. That is where her boredom comes to an abrupt halt. Sharing the living room with her, a huge polar makes his presence known. He convinces Sophie that not all polar bears are mean. Sophie is awestruck.

Olafur offers a real opportunity for study. He is an expert guide; sharing his love of the Arctic environment, pointing out  the many animals who live there, and basking in the beauty that surrounds the two of them. Their adventures are seemingly endless, until fatigue sets in and the two curl up on an ice floe for a much needed rest. As they sleep, the ice melts and threatens their safety. Sophie's newfound knowledge comes to the rescue, and all is well. One last surprise guarantees a report that  has substance and is guided by a fascination with her new learning. Our final glimpse of Sophie fills my heart with joy!

Imaginative and full of delight for all who share it, this is a book that renews Sophie's interest and engagement in her assigned report. Using rich watercolors to create a world where Sophie can learn all that she needs to know in the glorious wonder of the Arctic landscape, we watch as the two explore the vast, wintry world. What better way can there be to learn about life there? Amazing!

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