Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Said I Wouldn't Do This Again!

I'm about to do something I vowed never to do again. No, I'm not perming my hair or drinking a tequila shot. Believe me, neither is pretty. I'm going to write a post about bear books. After black bears had gone through my garbage cans one too many times, I declared The Book Bench a no-bear zone on November 10, but we've been enjoying two bear books that I feel I must share. The first is Kevin Henke's Old Bear. My son Ethan and I have read this half a dozen times in the past few weeks. Old Bear goes into hibernation and dreams that he is a cub again. It is a lovely book about age and seasons and the colors and sights we associate with the seasons. It's the perfect lapsit book.

Ethan loves Old Bear, so please don't get the wrong impression from the following photos. I'm warning you; they are a bit disturbing. Ethan purchased a Nerf gun last weekend with some birthday money. You would think he was buying his first home judging from the amount of time he spent considering this purchase. He wore a groove in the linoleum of the Toys R Us Nerf gun aisle examining all the options.

We brought it home and he shot every surface in the house. There were suction cup arrows affixed to doors, windows, ceilings, and eyeglasses. Kindly, his sister created several bull's eye targets for him from construction paper and markers. They were great for a few hours, but he eventually tired of them and went hunting for something new to shoot. It seems his hunt took him past the book bench where we keep library books. I assure you, this was not what I intended when I checked Old Bear out of the library! I think I need to return him to the (relative) safety of the children's section soon!
Another book bear avoided the Nerf gun. I think that is because while nice to look at, the illustration on the cover of Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu is not as large as that of Old Bear, and therefore it's a more difficult target for my pint sized marksman. Wonder Bear was a birthday gift for Ethan. It is an exuberantly illustrated wordless picture book. According to the dust jacket, Tao Nyeu received her MFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in NYC and "Wonder Bear was her thesis project inspired by an odd-looking gummy bear with magical powers." When my boys were toddlers, I disliked reading their wordless books because they insisted that I say exactly the same thing for each page at each "reading." However, I couldn't always remember what I said the last time. They would really flip their toddler lids if I strayed from the script as it were. Now my little guy loves it when I make up something different with each telling, and the illustrations in Wonder Bear inspire some wacky storytelling.
Off the subject of bears, Stephen Colbert is at it again. Last night he mentioned Neil Gaiman's Newberry medal winning book The Graveyard Book on the Colbert Report. I'm beginning to think he was a children's librarian in a former life. Also from that episode, his reading of a Danielle Steel novel with Steve Martin is priceless. If you missed it, I imagine you'll be able to find it on YouTube soon.

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