The Beginner's Guide to Bears by Gillian Shields and Sebastien Braun

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The Beginner's Guide to Bears by Gillian Shields and Sebastien Braun

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Buy The Beginner's Guide to Bears by Gillian Shields and Sebastien Braun at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: In this delightful book children will discover everything they need to do to look after their bear. Every page looks at a different aspect of a bear's life from playing to sleeping and the words on each page are accompanied by the most wonderful illustrations. It's a very appealing book for young children who will love the little surprise on the last page.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: May 2008
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 978-1846161032

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I have two small daughters who love books and also love bears so 'The Beginner's Guide to Bears' was an excellent choice for them. Although it looks like a story book, and indeed its content is entirely fictional, it takes on the guise of a manual which informs its young reader about everything that bears like and do!

The book starts by explaining the very special relationship that exists between bears and children:

You need a bear
And a bear needs you.
You and a bear
Together makes two.

It then goes on to discuss what bears look like, the games they want to play, the food they enjoy (honey of course but lots of other things besides!), the weather they enjoy, how to look after them when they are ill and what they need at bedtime! As you can see, there's pretty much everything a child would need to know about their bear. We particularly like the references to what bears need when they go to bed. These include a cuddly toy and a special blanket, a glass of milk, a bedtime story and a great big hug. I'm sure every small child would relate to this very well.

At the end of the book, we read the same four lines which we read at the beginning. I think this makes the book very well rounded and again emphasises the special place of bears in children's lives. Then on the very last page there is a mirror for the child to look into whilst holding their bear. My younger daughter absolutely loved this.

There are so many lovely things about this book but best of all are the wonderful illustrations. Every page is filled with lots of different bears doing all the things described and all have such expressive faces. There are bears chasing leaves, having a picnic, visiting the bear doctor, dressing up and all sorts of other fun things. All these bears look like they are having a fantastic time, but to me the best picture is at the very end where there are two bears having a bedtime hug. I'm sure that picture would melt even the hardest heart!

We also enjoyed the language in this book which is very accessible to young children. Every other page includes a short rhyme which is always very helpful for developing listening and early phonic skills. My elder daughter who is nearly five was very good at this, and the younger, at just three had a good attempt too. The print is quite large so there are not too many words on any page. Some of these are bigger or in capitals for emphasis such as when it talks about bears making lots of NOISE! You can't help but read that word loudly!

I have read this book with both of my daughters and they both enjoyed it very much although I would say that the best response came from my three year old who was virtually jumping up and down with excitement at the pages, and could hardly contain herself when she discovered the mirror at the end. She was also holding her favourite yellow teddy at the time which added to the magic of it. My other daughter also found it a lovely book, but she is ready for longer stories and more complicated plots. Therefore, I feel this book is probably most suitable for two to three year olds and would make an ideal gift to accompany a new teddy.

If your child enjoys this book, they will quite likely want to read Where's My Cuddle? by James Mayhew.

Buy The Beginner's Guide to Bears by Gillian Shields and Sebastien Braun at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Beginner's Guide to Bears by Gillian Shields and Sebastien Braun at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Beginner's Guide to Bears by Gillian Shields and Sebastien Braun at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Beginner's Guide to Bears by Gillian Shields and Sebastien Braun at Amazon.com.

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