Monday, June 19, 2017

We're Going on a Bear Hunt Books (from Walker Entertainment)

Aesthetically this series is so appealing; the small-format, glossy stiff covers -- the journal secured with an elastic band -- have the heft of a treasured diary.  The soft palette inside the pages and full-colour everywhere has a gentle, classic tone.  And of course the illustrations are lovely.
The content includes some winning science building blocks -- including the "Whys" of sky and atmosphere colour, the water cycle, cloud shapes and constellations -- all great stuff.  Sadly some of the references to flora and fauna from elsewhere don't readily apply in a New Zealand setting (the sound you hear in the bushes will not be a fox)...but if a loving peer or elder isn't far away, this  simply invites some engagement (and these are "bear hunt" books -- of which we have none here, so it's fair for the rest to be in the bear's habitat!).  I really love the way the information is organised (see image, below for half of Contents).  A lot of non-fiction texts have lots of boxes in primary colours filled with facts framing photographs as dominant images, but this has soft and lyrical illustrations running alongside the transmission of science!  What a delicious way to broaden the scope of seeing if younger humans might be into sciencey things!

One thing I think only time will tell, is how well the target audience will respond to linking to the original Bear Hunt book.  In my house at least, We're Going on a Bear Hunt was a true favourite from 18 months to 3 years.  It was read so much within that period (despite an extensive selection of other titles) that it became something they tired of.  That said, with sufficient gap since the last reading, all of our girls are happy to revisit it and join in the verse.  These books, branded with imagery from a book for very young listeners, are for children around 8-11 years of age (Walker's site says 6 years+ -- I think there'd be some 6-year-olds out there ready for these, but I'd venture more from around 8).  Regardless of the specifics, these are for independent readers with the branding of a book that was read to them.  It makes for interesting marketing!  My hope is that most 8-11 years recall Rosen's touchstone work with fondness and are happy to dive into these books to be in the story instead of captivated by it.  I know Esky (8) was drawn to them and thinks they hold a lot of appeal, and I would think there's a strong correlation between those who loved to sit to be read to and those who love reading and filling pages with their own words.

If you know a young adventurer, or perhaps someone who loves learning by doing and seeing, these are definitely worth checking out. 

Review copies received from Walker.
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