Friday, December 11, 2009

A Birthday for Bear, by Bonny Becker (ages 4 - 7)

Happy birthday to my little bear.  In honor of my oldest daughter's birthday, I would like to take a quick look at a new early chapter book, A Birthday for Bear.  In the classic tradition of Frog and Toad, Bear and Mouse are two friends who are opposites in many ways.  In the first Bear and Mouse story, A Visitor for Bear, Bear is sure that he does not want a visitor.  But Mouse perseveres and convinces Bear that he does want a visitor, and even more, a friend.  Now it is Bear's birthday, and what's a friend to do?
A Birthday for Bear
by Bonny Becker
illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
MA: Candlewick Press, 2009
Bear doesn't like parties or balloons; Bear HATES birthdays. But all Mouse wants to do is help his friend celebrate his birthday.  First, Mouse shows up waving a party invitation, but Bear can tell that Mouse wrote the card.  Then Mouse comes as a balloon deliveryman, but Bear throws him out again.  In a similar rendition that we saw in A Visitor for Bear, Mouse keeps finding ways to get back into Bear’s house and Bear keeps finding ways to kick him out.  But then you realize that no one had ever given Bear a birthday present before.  In the end, Bear accepts Mouse's friendship and gift, in a warm resolution..

This picture book is set up as an early reader.  It works perfectly as a read-aloud, introducing young children (late preschool or kindergarten) to short chapter books, but I would hesitate recommending it to a 1st or 2nd grader reading trying to read independently.  Young children are obsessed with birthdays, laugh at Bear's grumpy manners, and are satisfied with the resolution.  But the vocabulary would be a challenge for most new readers; some examples are: innocently, shameful trickery, announced, and appalling behavior.  While this vocabulary did not interrupt young listeners' comprehension of the story, it would interrupt a new reader's ability to decode or understand the words fluently.

A Birthday for Bear is nominated for a Cybils Award in the Short Chapter Book category.  My kindergartner definitely enjoyed listening to it as a short chapter book.  Has anyone else read it with children?  Cybils awards recognize both quality of literature and appeal to children.

Find A Birthday for Bear at your local public library on WorldCat or a bookstore near you.  The review copy came from Amazon.  If you purchase it through Amazon on the link below, a small commission will go to Great Kid Books, which will be used to buy more books to review.

No comments:

Post a Comment