Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Welcome Home, Bear: A Book of Animal Habitats by Il Sung Na

Sometimes it seems there are so many gorgeous picture books you just don't have enough storytimes to go around. Fortunately for my sanity, I have several bear-themed storytimes that this will fit nicely into, because I couldn't bear not to use in storytime. Heh. Bear.

I'm writing this at the tail-end of summer and I haven't had a lot of sleep. Ahem. Anyways.

Il Sung Na returns with another animal-themed book, this one exploring habitats with a delightful touch of imagination. Bear has decided he's tired of the same old green forest and wants to try a new home. So he goes visiting to see where the other animals live. But Mole's underground home is too stuffy, Octopus' ocean is too deep, and Camel's desert is too hot. Finally, Bear realizes the perfect place for him is back in his green forest.

The illustrations are in Il Sung Na's unique, layered style. They have a light, amusing quality, as when a bug-eyed Bear freaks out about his hot paws in the desert sand while a pink and blue Camel watches with a crooked grin,, but there's also a delicate beauty in the detailed foliage and the print-like green and blue forests on the end pages.

The plot of a creature looking high and low and discovering what they want is at home all the time is a familiar one, but the humorous twist to the plot as well as the natural details make it fresh and new. When Bear visits Octopus under the sea, we learn obliquely that Octopus squirts ink. It rains in the Orangutan's home so where does the Orangutan live....the rainforest! Goat lives in high places, so she's a....mountain goat! The lovely illustrations are eye-catching and distinctive and will keep your audience's attention as well.

Verdict: This is a great introduction to any storytime repertoire and a lovely and fun book on its own. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780385753753; Published 2015 by Alfred A. Knopf/Random House; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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