Friday, December 13, 2019

Review - Bear Is Awake!

Bear Is Awake!: An Alphabet Story
by Hannah E. Harrison
Date: 2019
Publisher: Dial Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

In this delightfully different alphabet book from the creator of Extraordinary Jane, a curious bear makes a new friend.

Suddenly "awake" in the middle of winter, a "big bear" explores a "cozy cabin," which Bear of course "enters excitedly." But the cabin isn't empty--a little girl lives there. So begins an unlikely friendship and an unexpected adventure as the girl attempts to figure out what a bear is supposed to be doing in the winter. (Hint: It's not eating pancakes or visiting the library!)

With her trademark humor and warmth, Hannah E. Harrison puts her own irresistible spin on the classic alphabet book. The result is a story families will treasure for years to come.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I'm often conflicted when it comes to picture books that feature realistic bears (or other dangerous creatures) interacting with children. This book, unfortunately, has some of that. But I want to overlook that somewhat in this case because the illustrations are too adorable to be missed!

This is a bit of a different alphabet book in that it tells a story. It could also work as a wordless picture book, but the words here--carefully chosen to highlight each letter of the alphabet--make this a great tool for teaching new words. Some of the entries are not basic; for example, O features "oblivious" and "outlandish". But I actually like that the language isn't dumbed down.

The basic story is that a bear wakes up from hibernation, goes wandering, sees a cozy cabin, and rings the doorbell. When a little girl answers the door, the fun begins as she tries to figure out what to do with her ursine visitor.

The illustrations are really the star here. The bear is drawn fairly realistically, but it's also kind of cute and anthropomorphized to the point that my wariness started to dissipate a little. (Still, if you live in bear country, make sure your kids realize that actual bears are dangerous and probably won't take kindly to being dragged to the library or made to wear a hat.)

Despite my reservations about the premise, I quite enjoyed the rest of this. The illustrations are truly lovely, and I'd like to see what else the illustrator has done.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 5/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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