________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 11 . . . . November 16, 2012


A Birthday for Bear.

Bonny Becker. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
Somerville, MA: Books/Candlewick Press (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 2009.
48 pp., hardcover, $20.00.
ISBN 978-0-7636-5823-6.

Subject Headings:

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Karyn Miehl.




      The previously reviewed A Birthday for Bear has been reformatted and released as a hardcover. Not only has the size and shape of the book changed, but some of the content has as well. The book begins in much the same way as the previous version:

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 heard a tap-tap-tapping on his front door.

He opened the door, and there was Mouse, small and gray and bright-eyed.

"Happy Birthday, Bear!" cried Mouse.

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

     internal art In this revamped book, with illustrations in watercolour, ink and gouache, Bear does his best to ignore his birthday. His friend Mouse, however, is determined to celebrate Bear's birthday with him. Bear keeps himself busy to forget that it is his birthday, but Mouse goes to great lengths to celebrate with Bear. In disguise, Mouse comes "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 comes to accept Mouse's gift, and his friendship.

      For the most part, the content of the story is the same as the softcover edition. Minor details in the newer version, such as when bear "slammed the shutters" (as opposed to him having "slammed the window shut") do not impact the story itself. More noticeable changes appear closer to the end of the story. In the original, after Mouse enters through the fireplace and makes a mess, Bear takes longer to clean up, and he completes other chores before reflecting on the fact that he had never before received a birthday gift. Also, in the softcover book, once Bear admits to Mouse that he likes chocolate cake and Mouse whisks out the door, Bear cries out, "Wait!", with the illustration showing Bear attempting to stop Mouse from leaving. This part is omitted from the newer version. Without comparing the two texts, though, the reader would likely not feel that anything is missing from the story.

      Unlike the original version, the reformatted book is not divided into chapters which allows the story to flow without interruptions of chapter headings. The font still changes to indicate Bear speaking or shouting words loudly, and it still changes for the birthday party invitation that Mouse creates. There is also use of italics for a variety or reasons (indicates a sound, Bear's thoughts, emphasis, etc.). The illustrations, while done more in earth tones rather than in bright colours, are still very appealing and enhance the text. With the larger page sizes of the hardcover book, there is more room for the illustrations, and for the illustrator to add more detail to the pictures.

      The original version of the book was very enjoyable, and the newly formatted hardcover copy is just as enjoyable. The changes made to the text are minimal, and the illustrations enhance the story nicely.

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.

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