Shh! Bears Sleeping

illus. by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher. 32p. Viking. Jan. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780670017188.
PreS-Gr 2—Gorgeous oil paintings convey the changing cycles of the seasons as seen through the eyes of a black bear and her cubs. The spare text utilizes rhyme and conveys the passing of time: "Skinny bears/with winter hungries/gobble food/to fill up tummies/Berries, honey/Maybe bees/Bugs and grubs/In rotten trees." Mama bear and her two cubs lumber through beautifully painted landscapes as the olive greens, wheaten tans, and tawny yellows disappear rather quickly with a page turn that leads the bears and readers back into the chilly days of winter. "Night and day/day and night/Through winter cold/And winter light/And winter wind/And ice and snow/While blizzards storm/Bears lay low/Underground/Beneath the snow/Fast, fast/Fast asleep." The book completes its circular walk through the seasons with the same bluebird from the first page appearing at story's end to signal the return of spring. An informational spread follows the story, offering facts about black bears, and the process of hibernation. Pair this with other bear stories, such as April Pulley Sayre's Eat Like a Bear (Holt, 2013), Kevin Henkes's Old Bear (Greenwillow, 2008), and Philip and Erin Stead's Bear Has a Story to Tell (Roaring Brook, 2012), for an informational book bundle.
VERDICT Beautiful pictures elevate this beyond the slightly saccharine rhyme.

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