QUITE BY ACCIDENT I HAVE DISCOVERED A WONDERFUL JUVENILE PICTURE BOOK
How many hundreds of children’s picture books have I read since the 1950s? I am always hopeful that the next one will have the perfect combination of story and illustrations. So many have one without the other. Some are clever with confusing modern art illustrations that I do not believe appeal to young children. Others have great illustrations combined with a lackluster story.
It was with no particular expectations that I picked up A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker with illustrations by Kady MacDonald Denton. By the end I was near tears, surprised by the joy of having found a perfect story and classic illustrations.
It is written for 2-6 year olds, but just fine for everyone. Unsurpassed for read-aloud. It is clever, comedic, with excellent pacing and rhythm. Something new can be discovered with each reading, by the reader and the child. Big vocabulary words are self-explanatory. The repetition is as pleasing as a refrain in a song. The illustrations are in soft colors, and the expressions on the face of the mouse and the bear subtly convey their emotions. Small details captivate.
A Visitor for Bear was published in 2009. Bonnie Becker has now written a series of these bear books. They are published by Candlewick Press, a favorite of mine.
Two other read-aloud favorites for preschoolers:
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good-night by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin and James Dean