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'Snow Bears'     Send a link to a friend

[JAN. 14, 2004]  "Snow Bears," by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies, Candlewick Press, 24 pages, ages 2 to 6

Review by Marlene Perry

This story is all about the mother and child relationship, exuding a warm, fuzzy feeling that will envelop the reader as well as the child. The story line is familiar and comforting, the text simple and warm, and the illustrations gentle and appealing. For a simple, caring "mother and child story," you can't go wrong with this book.

"Snow Bears" begins with Mommy Bear joining her three cubs outdoors for an afternoon of winter play. The cubs are already snowy, and the mother remarks, "You look like snow bears." As children do, the three cubs begin to make believe and are no longer her baby bears but claim to be three "snow bears" who don't know their real identities. As mommy bears do so well, she goes along with the game.

"But where are my baby bears?" asks Mommy Bear. "I don't know where we are," said the biggest snow bear. "I haven't seen us," said the middle-sized bear. "We aren't here, Mommy Bear," said the smallest snow bear.

The winter frolic continues until the babies are cold and want to go home. Mommy Bear mentions her cubs' favorite warm toast treat, and to her feigned surprise these three snow bears love the same treat! As mother is preparing the treat, the snow bears begin to warm up by the fireplace -- drip, dripping -- and start to revert to their real selves.

"Something's happening to us," said the biggest snow bear. "We're starting to drip," said the middle-sized bear. "We're melting away," said the smallest bear.

Mommy Bear returns to find her three baby bears by the fire where the snow bears had been. The cubs are delighted to reveal that they were just pretending, ending with all four bears enjoying the close feelings that come from their shared game.

 

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"Snow Bears" is a story of warm, loving interactions. The mother is willing to play and pretend, while the cubs have complete trust in their mother. Children will identify with the cubs' role-playing and will enjoy that this mother pretends to believe the mistaken identity. Of course they will love the predictable ending, revealing what the listener knew all along.

An equal contributor to the warm feelings of this book is the soft, watercolor setting of white snow, blue sky and golden fire-glow. The bears are painted with sweet, petlike faces, doing things like human activities, which are appealing and not at all frightening. They live in a log cabin complete with a glowing fire. Doesn't this sound like the perfect place for you and your little cubs to read this story on a snowy afternoon?

Martin Waddell is the author of many well-loved children's books, many told from the animal's point of view (always a winner with young listeners), such as "Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?," "Farmer Duck" and "Owl Babies."

To check out this book and others, please visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call (217) 732-5732.

[Marlene Perry, youth services,
Lincoln Public Library District]

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