About a Bear by Holly Surplice is a book for very young readers about all of the things that a bear can be, from bored, to hungry, to silly. The text is minimal and soothing, with short sentences, and somewhat predictable rhymes. There's not really a narrative to About A Bear, more a string of images of Bear in different situations (a couple of them bear-specific, others things that might be true of any toddler). At the end, we have (across two page spreads):
"A bear can get sleepy
and need a bear hug.
Then cuddle up tight,
as snug as a bug."
While not groundbreaking as poetry goes, this ending makes About A Bear work as a bedtime book.
But what sets About A Bear apart is not the prose, but Surplice's illustrations. Bear's face and posture are expressive, matching the relevant text. The backgrounds on each page are lit in glowing, sunrise-themed colors. The page in which "A bear can be glad" is filled with a riot of luminous leaves pinks, golds, and oranges, against a peach background. It's hard to describe, but it emanates "glad." I would read and re-read this book to spend time on this page alone, though the other pages are nice, too. There are toddler-friendly details, like a picture of the bear sniffing a turtle ("a curious find") and then balancing the turtle on his stomach, as the two nearly touch noses.
In short, we are putting About A Bear on our bedtime books shelf. I don't expect us to be reading this one for years (there's not enough complexity, as Baby Bookworm gets older). But About A Bear is going to be a good choice for now, when we want some pictures to spread a bit of joy. Recommended for 2-4 year olds.
Publisher: Tiger Tales (@TigerTalesBooks)
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
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).