Beaaaars, so round and furry and awesome. Beaaaars.
Ahem. So, this is a picture book format, simple introduction to the life cycle, especially the growing-up years, of a brown bear. The story of the bear's lives begins with their birth in the den and moves through their growing up years until they set out on their own. The text is simple and bold, using plain language to explain to young children how the bears' mother takes care of them and adding in interesting facts seamlessly to the text. It's a little longer for reading aloud to very young children, but four year olds up through first grade will enjoy listening to this.
Of course, the big draw of these books, and this one especially is the bears. Eszterhas is a wildlife photographer and specializes in photographing families and baby animals, so you know there are going to be lots of awesome bear pictures. I loved the way it started out showing the bears when they were small and they slowly grow through the story, following the text, so at the end they're as big as the mother bear. Close-ups show the cubs nursing, fishing, digging for clams, and more.
A final page gives a list of bear facts and there are more photographs on the endpapers. I would have liked to see some sources or bibliography, but this is an introduction for very young children so it's really not necessary.
Verdict: Adorable photographs and simple, clear text perfect for older storytimes or bear fans. There are also volumes on the cheetah, gorilla, lion, orangutan, and sea otter, which is my other favorite. There was supposed to be an elephant and tiger next year, but they appear to be cancelled on Baker & Taylor, although they show available for preorder on the author's website. Hopefully that will change, since these are great books to introduce young children to popular and endangered animals.