________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 5. . . .September 30, 2011

cover

A Birthday for Bear.

Bonny Becker. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 2008.
56 pp., pbk., $4.50.
ISBN 978-0-7636-4579-3.

Subject Headings:
Birthdays-Fiction.
Bears-Fiction.
Mice-Fiction.
Friendship-Fiction

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Karyn Miehl

**** /4

   

excerpt:

Swish! Swish! Swish! Bear dusted his shelves. Whisk! Whisk! Whisk! Bear swept his floor. He was very, very busy today. Bear was always very, very busy on his birthday.

He opened the door to shake out his broom, and there was Mouse, small and gray and bright-eyed.

"Happy Birthday, Bear!" cried Mouse.

"It's not my birthday," lied Bear.

 

In A Birthday for Bear, with illustrations in ink and watercolour, Bear does his best to ignore his birthday. His friend Mouse, however, is determined to celebrate Bear's birthday with him. Throughout the story, Bear keeps himself busy to forget that it is his birthday, but Mouse goes to great lengths to celebrate with Bear. He gets creative with his disguises and his reasons for "tap, tap tapping" on Bear's door, or "rap, rap, rapping" on Bear's window. Each time, though, Bear sees through Mouse's disguise and sends Mouse on his way. In the end, Mouse's persistence pays off as Bear discovers he does like birthdays and birthday cake. He just thought he didn't like his birthday because he had never celebrated it before.

internal art     A Birthday for Bear is quite enjoyable. The characters of Bear and Mouse are consistently portrayed both within this story and in the previous book, A Visitor for Bear. Some of the repetition in this story echoes words and phrases repeated in the Visitor book as well, a situation which results in reader/listener familiarity and an ability to predict or recite along.

      Interesting features of this book include the fact that the story is divided into four short chapters, and that the font changes to indicate Bear's speaking or shouting words loudly. The font also changes for the birthday party invitation that Mouse creates. There is also use of italics for a variety of reasons (to indicate a sound, Bear's thoughts, emphasis, etc.). The illustrations, while done more in earth tones rather than in bright colours, are very appealing and enhance the text.

      Also worth noting in A Birthday for Bear are the characters, themselves, and the lessons they teach the reader. Mouse's persistence teaches that there are rewards to being determined, and Mouse also shows qualities of a good friend. Bear shows that it is important to be open to new ideas and to accepting friendship.

Highly Recommended.

Karyn Miehl, a mother of two and a secondary school English teacher, lives in Kingsville, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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