Tuesday, December 3, 2013

30 Days of Picture Books - Copycat Bear by Ellie Sandall

It's Day 25 of our 30 Days of Picture Books. One thing I hope this month of sharing picture books has done is inspire you to include bookish gifts in your holiday giving. Gift cards are fine, socks are necessary, but books -- books are a gift that stays with a child for a lifetime! Often I see bloggers posting advice on "how to pick out the perfect book for a child" or some such. I know these folks mean well but honestly there is no magic trick to finding a good literary gift. My best advice is to go to a store or library, read a whole mess of picture books, then go get a coffee or lunch and see which books linger in your mind. Whatever book you remember is likely to be the one you'll most enjoy sharing with a child, and that joy is infectious!

Tonight's pick is a fairly recent one that I think would make a lovely surprise under someone's Christmas tree. Ellie Sandall's an author/illustrator with one fine eye for design, as you'll see when you flip through her new book Copycat Bear. She clearly knows how to set up a page not only to emphasize the important points of her story, but also to draw readers through the text. Her illustrations, while graphic and eye-catching, aren't going to overwhelm a young reader either, a balance that's important to strike. And Sandall makes it feel effortless.

Likewise, Sandall's story reads easily but doesn't spare her message. Mango's a bird and Blue is her gigantic bear friend. The two get along great except for Blue's one annoying habit - he likes to mimic Mango's behavior. Mango doesn't care for that too much, and she tries to do things that Blue can't do. But try as she might, Mango can't find anything that Blue won't at least attempt. Finally Mango flies away in frustration - but then she discovers that she can't stop thinking about that big blue bear. At last Mango goes back to find her friend, and figures out that a copycat bear is just the kind of friend she needs.

I love the sentiment in this title, because I think it's an important lesson to learn -- though we might at times be annoyed by the people we love, in the end it is often that very behavior we miss the most. Blue's copying ways remind me so much of the toddler set, for whom imitation is not only sincere flattery but also the most easily expressed kind. Little ones will love this book for its simple, satisfying resolution every bit as much as its gentle pictures - an absolutely great choice for bedtime or the storytime wind-down!

Copycat Bear by Ellie Sandall, published by Tiger Tales

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