CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 4. . . .September 23, 2011
A Visitor for Bear.
Bonny Becker. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 2008.
56 pp., hardcover, $19.00.
Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.
Review by Karyn Miehl.
When he opened his door, there was a mouse, small and gray and bright-eyed.
"No visitors allowed," Bear said, pointing to the sign. "Go away."
He closed the door and went back to the business of making his breakfast.
He set out one cup and one spoon.
But when he opened the cupboard to get one bowl . . .
there was the mouse! Small and gray and bright-eyed.
This lovely book, with illustrations in watercolour, ink and gouache, revolves around Bear, who does not like visitors. Throughout A Visitor for Bear, Bear's attempts to keep the mouse from visiting are thwarted by the mouse's persistent efforts. In the end, Bear relents and enjoys the visit with his friend.
There are many appealing features of this book. The story, itself, is enjoyable and contains repetition that adds to the book's lighthearted tone. As Bear does 'shout' some of the things he says, the font for those words is in larger type which makes them easily identifiable on the page. There is also an interesting use of larger vocabulary words throughout the story that builds on simpler ideas presented earlier in the book. For example, Bear first tells the mouse to leave. Then he says, "Away with you! Vamoose!", and later still, "Begone!" Even with the more difficult vocabulary, young readers should be able to understand these words and phrases as synonyms for the initial order to 'get out'.
The illustrations, while done more in earth tones rather than in bright colours, are very appealing. The facial expressions and body language of both Bear and the mouse add detail and humour to the images. Even without the text, these illustrations do a good job of telling the story.
Also worth noting in A Visitor for Bear are the characters, themselves. Bear is portrayed as a dynamic character --- he changes from the beginning of the story to the end. He is initially shown as one who really does not like anyone bothering him, but when he gives in to the mouse's persistent attempts to visit, he learns that he really does like to visit, at least with the mouse. Bear finds that he likes having someone be attentive to him, compliment him, laugh with him, and spend time with him. The mouse is also interesting in his determination and in that he is a mouse of his word, willing to leave when he promised to do so.
Overall, A Visitor for Bear is a wonderful book.
Karyn Miehl, a mother of two and a secondary school English teacher, lives in Kingsville, ON.
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