Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light (Apryl Stott)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light by Apryl Stott, a sweet wintertime story of kindness and acceptance.

Coco (a little girl) and her best friend Bear (a bear) are a different as night and day. Coco is brave and outgoing, Bear is gentle and shy. What they both have in common, however, is that they are kind; in fact, it’s what they like best about each other. So when Coco finds out that the other animals in Bear’s forest are afraid and distrusting of him, she is flabbergasted – who could be afraid of her sweet Bear? Drawing inspiration from her grandmother’s favorite saying, Coco plans a campaign to show the forest animals what a wonderful friend Bear can be. But will kindness and light be enough to convince the others to look past Bear’s appearance?

Warm and delightful. Stott creates an original and memorable fable about unfair assumptions, told by immensely lovable characters and in a gorgeous winter woodland setting. There are some expositional moments that are a little lacking (more focus could have been pulled to the unexpected use of the lanterns that Bear and Coco made during the climax, for instance), but otherwise the story is a solid argument for not judging others by appearance or “race” (several characters are mistrusting of Bear not only because he is big, but explicitly because they do not believe bears to be trustworthy). The illustrations are lovely and the characters charming, especially the gentle-eyed Bear, who absolutely stole our hearts. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed it. A nice nondenominational wintertime story about the importance of kindness to others, and we recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Nothing Can Frighten A Bear (Elizabeth Dale)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Nothing Can Frighten A Bear, written by Elizabeth Dale and illustrated by Paula Metcalf, a fun-filled modern fairytale about a bear family dealing with a few nighttime scares.

Snuggled into their cave in the woods, the Bear family – Mama, Daddy, Grace, Ben, and Baby – are awakened when Baby is startled from sleep by a mysterious roar. Insisting that he won’t be able to sleep until the source of the noise is identified, the bears head out on an expedition to help Baby face his fears. Various noises greet them but are easily explained away (a crow, a deer, a frog, etc.), all while Daddy Bear cheerfully proclaims that nothing can frighten a bear. But neither he nor Baby have noticed that the other family members are being left behind, caught up in various sticky yet non-threatening situations. And when the two realize they are alone, and more mysterious noises are headed their way, even Daddy Bear begins to feel a little nervous. Especially of those strange shadows approaching from the woods…

Wonderfully amusing fun. I don’t want to give away the ending because it’s delightful, but I promise that there is nothing even vaguely scary about this book; the bears are never in danger, and their fear is played for some really enjoyable laughs. The layout of the story is wonderful for encouraging the involvement of little readers, with easily identifiable animals and rhymes that they can join with their adult in reading aloud, and filled with bouncy text that is easy and fun to read. The illustrations are absolutely adorable and filled with lovely details, the length is great, and JJ loved it. A fantastic story about facing the fear of what goes bump in the night, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

But The Bear Came Back (Tammi Sauer)

Hello, friends! Our book today is But The Bear Came Back, written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Dan Taylor, the story of a reluctant friendship.

A boy is reading at home when there is a knock on the door: a bear has arrived, suitcase in hand. The boy politely turns the bear away, and that is that… until the next day, and each day after, when the bear shows up again. Sometimes he has a friend in tow, sometimes he climbs in through the chimney, and he always seems to insert himself into the boy’s alone time: painting, reading, even his bath! Finally, the boy has had enough, and commands the bear go home, earning some peace and quiet. But after a few days, he begins to realize something: he may have accidentally made a friend, and now he misses that silly bear…

There were things I loved about this one. First, the illustrations are flawlessly adorable: from the big cuddly brown bear to some lovely little sight gags to a cozy and warm final spread, every page was delightful. The story is good, but also left some questions: why does the bear keep coming back? Why is the boy so immediately dismissive of him? Based on visual cues, it would seem that the boy is an introvert, but happily so: he is contentedly reading 101 Things To Do Alone as the bear arrives. So it’s understandable if the boy isn’t looking to socialize, but the bear continues his inept yet endearing efforts at friendship. It’s nice that the two find it in the end, but it also seemed to send the message that being with others is always preferable to being alone, which I would disagree with. The thing is, the art and text is so darn cute, it’s pretty easy to overlook this issue. Besides, JJ adored it, and it was a fine length. So overall, this one is Baby Bookworm approved – read it with a friend, or alone, whichever makes you happy!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Bear Stays Up For Christmas (Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman)

Hello, friends! Well, it’s the penultimate book in the holiday countdown, and we’ve picked a great one for Christmas Eve: Bear Stays Up For Christmas, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman. This sweet story follows Wilson and Chapman’s popular Bear and his friends as they prepare for Christmas Day.

Bear’s friends have made decision: this year, they are going to wake their friend Bear from hibernation so that he can enjoy the Christmas holiday with them. And while it’s tough to wake a hibernating bear (and even tougher to keep him awake!), the friends are insitent – Christmas is a time to be together, and they don’t want for Bear to be left out. As the day goes by, the friends prepare for Christmas in all the usual ways: getting and decorating a tree, making yummy goodies, singing carols. As the day wanes, the friends all begin to stretch and yawn themselves – they’re so sleepy from all their work! One by one, they nod off until… only Bear is left awake. Grinning, Bear is delighted – now he can work on presents for all his friends, and perhaps have a very special visitor…

I have yet to read one of the Bear books that isn’t an absolute delight, and this one keeps the tradition alive. Sweet, kind, whimsical and wondrous, Bear and his friends are as cheerful and dedicated as always, and their adventures here are a festive treat that explores the Christmas theme of togetherness and friendship. Chapman’s illustrations are wonderful, using lifelike critter models and imbuing them with loads of personality and movement. The length is perfect, and JJ and I always love reading about Bear and company together. A wonderful Christmas story for a beloved cast of characters, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Bear Says Thanks (Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman)

Hello, friends! We’re getting into the Thanksgiving spirit over here at The Baby Bookworm: today, we read Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, a delightful and sweet tale from the pair’s beloved Bear series.

Bear wants to invite his friends over for a delicious feast to show them how much he appreciates them, but alas, his cupboard is completely bare! As he is bemoaning this, his friend Mouse shows up with a delicious pie to share, and Bear says “Thanks!” From there, more of Bear’s woodland pals show up, each bringing a delicious treat to share with the others. Bear thanks his guests kindly, but is overwhelmed – they have all been so generous to bring food, but he has nothing to offer the group in return. But Bear’s friends say no matter; Bear can provide them with stories and the pleasure of his company, which is all they require for their friendship feast.

We have yet to read a Bear book that we didn’t love, and this one was no exception. The familiar cadence of the rhyming text from previous installments is back, making it a bouncy and fun read-aloud. The story brings a few wonderful lessons about generosity, kindness, community, and the true meaning of friendship, leaving the reader with a warm heart by the final page. Chapman’s illustrations are as darling as ever, bringing personality and emotion to each character. The length is great, and JJ always adores Bear and his friends, as you can see! A fantastic read year-round, and especially during the season of togetherness, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!