I enjoyed John Butler's Bedtime in the Jungle (reviewed last year), particularly his illustrations of animals. So when a new board book edition of his 2007 picture book Can You Growl Like a Bear? was released, I was happy to give it a look.
Can You Growl Like a Bear? is a short book in which each page spread highlights a different animal, and each pair of page spreads rhymes. Like this:
"Can you click like
a dolphin, swimming
through the seas?
Can you buzz
like a honeybee,
floating on a breeze?"
In the above, "click" and "buzz" are both shown in larger, bold text, highlighting the sound that each creature makes. Having the rhymes on separate pages makes the book a little bit difficult to read aloud, but having each page spread focus on only one animal is clearly the right way to go for this young audience.
I like that even though the book is for young readers, and there's not a lot of text, Butler still uses descriptive words like "basking" and "slinking". The noises shared gradually quiet as the book progresses, making it a nice bedtime read. Butler closes with:
"Everyone is quiet now.
You can't hear a peep.
It's time to gently close your eyes
and fall fast asleep."
As in Bedtime in the Jungle, Butler's animals are largely realistic, but with an extra hint of friendliness. The elephant, for example, is wrinkled but smiling. The pandas, mother and child snuggling for the night, are fuzzy enough to make any reader want to curl right up beside them.
I do think that the viewing quality of the illustrations may have been harmed a bit by the board book format. They look just a tiny bit flat. I think that paper (particularly paper with a hint of gloss) would make them more vivid. Of course this is a bedtime book - the illustrations don't need to be vivid. But I found myself wondering if the hardcover version would have been more visually satisfying.
Still, that's a minor quibble. Can You Growl Like a Bear? is satisfying toddler bedtime fare, filled with gentle rhymes, and with the chance to hear and repeat a different animal sound on every page. A good addition to any toddler board book gift pack.
Publisher: Peachtree (@PeachtreePub)
Publication Date: August 1, 2012 (this edition)
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).