"In a cave in the woods, in his deep, dark lair, through the long, cold winter sleeps a great brown bear."
Of course, if you know me at all, you would know that anything about a bear is going to catch my attention. Sometimes the books I pick up disappoint, but that is certainly not the case with Bear Snores On. I read it first back when I was teaching, and fell in love with it then, so of course I had to have it for my son's library!
There is a wonderful flow to the creative rhymes as Bear is joined, unknown to him, by several other forest animals seeking shelter from the storm outside. As Mouse is joined by Hare and they are joined by Badger and so on and so forth, a nice little party starts to gather in the bear's little cave..."but the Bear snores on".
The flow of the rhyme and story makes it an enjoyable book to read out loud, plus there is just enough repetition to be beneficial to little listeners (it won't be long before they are joining in on "...the bear snores on!") without driving the reader crazy like some children's books tend to do. There are wonderful opportunities to do voices for the different animals, which my son loves, and we get to make sounds like the animals do. "Chew, Chomp, Crunch!" and his favorite..."ACHOOOOOOOO!!!" when the bear is tickled by a stray fleck of pepper.
In addition, the illustrations are beautifully done. Jane Chapman's drawings of Bear and his forest friends are warm and eye catching, and her creatures are adorable! You are left just wanting to cuddle Mouse, pat Hare on the head, and give Bear a great big bear hug! I know that many would say that it's the story that matters, but when you are reading to children who can not yet read themselves, I find that the pictures often help them understand and enjoy the story almost as much as the words do. In a day when some children's picture books are starting to look like they were drawn by someone with very little time and very little imagination, it is refreshing to see a book where the illustrator clearly has as much love for the characters as the author does.
My son adores the book, and eagerly helps me turn the pages between giving kisses to Bear and his friends! He will even sit and look through it when we aren't reading together, happily "reading" out loud to himself and pointing at his favorite pictures. At only 10 months old, this is one of his favorite books to read with me, along with the other Bear books. I highly suggest this book, and it's "siblings", also by Karma Wilson.
If you are interested in the other Bear books, or the many others written by Ms. Wilson, please visit her page: http://karmawilson.com/. If you would like to see more art and books illustrated by Jane Chapman, please visit: http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/25815/Jane_Chapman/index.aspx.