Monday, September 14, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Eat like a bear by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

I purchased this when it came out last year and have used it extensively in programs, but just now realized that I never reviewed it.

Sayre's poetic text and Jenkin's rough paper illustrations take the listener through a bear's diet starting in April, when she awakens hungry and searches for food: "Leaping trout? None about. Bushes? Bare. No berries there."

The bear eats bits of greenery and scavenges frozen a frozen carcass. As the months progress, she finds more food from ants to fish and makes an unsuccessful run after an elk calf. A brief pause for romance "Hunting's over. Time for clover...and for meeting another bear." and the hunt for food progresses. Finally, it's November "Can you winter like a bear? It's November and the fat you wear will help you live through winter." In the final spread, the bear is joined by two little cubs.

There are two pages of additional facts and information on bears, from the dangerous feeding bears to how hibernation works. An author's note explains the inspiration for this book.

I have a confession to make. I love this book and I've used it in a lot of storytimes and outreach visits for fall, bears, and animals. I've never gotten to read the whole thing through. Kids just aren't interested in listening and the disjointed rhythm of the text seems to throw them off. However, this is still a book I recommend wholeheartedly. Part of the reason I can never read it straight through is that a couple sentences sets off a barrage of discussion "Is it eating butterflies? I don't eat butterflies! Ewww, why is it eating butterflies? Why doesn't it eat fish? etc." While it doesn't work as a straightforward read-aloud, it's works extremely well as a starting point for discussion and for the kids to get involved.

Also, all the kindergarteners I visit now know the word "omnivorous."

Verdict: This is a must-have to supplement your fall and bear storytimes. It's a great discussion-starter and, unlike many animal books for younger children, is very factual without being graphic or frightening (the parents that is - kids can handle the concept of a bear chasing an elk calf just fine and they are all generally in the "she caught it! she's gonna eat it!" camp.)

ISBN: 9780805090390; Published 2013 by Henry Holt; Purchased for the library

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