Thursday, November 22, 2012

30 Days of Picture Books - Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson

Happy Thanksgiving! It's Day 22 of Picture Book Month and we have much to be thankful for around here: family, good friends, a warm home, plenty to eat, and of course loads of books. As we have been the last couple of years, we are extra thankful for the process of adoption, which allowed us to become parents, and to the country of Ethiopia, where our hearts were made full. We hope you are having a wonderful day celebrating with those you love most.

This is the first year that Sprout is really aware of the holiday. He's been doing turkey crafts at preschool (a pinecone turkey!) and talking about things he's thankful for. We've also been talking a lot at home about gratitude, about how fortunate we are to have so much in our lives. Naturally that entails reading books about Thanksgiving. I've shared some already, from multicultural titles to a nonfiction choice, and today's pick features one of our favorite picture book characters.

We first met Karma Wilson's Bear in the now-classic Bear Snores On, and since then we've read a number of Bear's other adventures. Sprout adores Bear, and with each book he studies Jane Chapman's illustrations carefully. In his latest outing, Bear Says Thanks, Bear and his forest friends gather in his cozy cave for a lovely feast. Everyone brings something, from Mouse's huckleberry pie to Badger's catch of the day. But Bear is upset because his own cupboard is empty and he has nothing to add to the dinner spread. Fortunately, his dear friends reassure them that Bear has plenty to share: his wonderful stories! And so the group gathers together to share a meal and some cameraderie.

You can't go wrong with any of these excellent Bear titles. Karma Wilson's stories touch on the kinds of issues that are important to preschoolers, and her writing really lends itself to read-aloud, whether at home or in the classroom. I love that each title gives us more to talk about -- in this case, the importance of sharing what we have with others who do not, as well as the fact that we all have different gifts to contribute. And the illustrations by Jane Chapman are just delightful, with color palettes and cozy details that match the tone of each tale to a T. In one of the last spreads, the friends are gathered around Bear, eating and laughing and having a very enjoyable time; Chapman's homey translation of the scene will make young readers want to join right in!

Stories unite us and help us understand ourselves and our world in ways we could never anticipate. We hope you, dear readers, are as thankful for the gifts of talented authors and illustrators as we are. In the spirit of Bear and his friends, we all say "Thanks!"

Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson, published by Simon & Schuster

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