Saturday, November 28, 2020

Picture books to ponder: "Bear" and "Winter" and a quirky "Half" book to tickle one's fancy [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett, Shawn Harris

My thoughts: If you've ever been to a zoo that has Polar Bears, you know they love to frolic in the water. But we can't see them in their natural habitat no matter how hard the zoos try to replicate it.

This picture book uses stark white on white, grey on white, and occasional black pen strokes to show a bear's trek across the polar region and he is going somewhere. We're kept guessing until he reaches the water into which he plunges and has a gay old time playing and frocking in the frigid waters. 

The game of "find the bear" on the pages and the sparse text make this a book where one's imagination can take flight.

A good book.

About the book: A majestic polar bear heads out on a mysterious walk in a dazzling, playful collaboration from an exciting pair of picture-book creators.

Follow a magnificent polar bear through a fantastic world of snow and shockingly blue sea. Over the ice, through the water, past Arctic animals and even a human…where is he going? What does he want? Acclaimed author Mac Barnett’s narration deftly balances suspense and emotion, as well as poignant, subtle themes, compelling us to follow the bear with each page turn. Artist Shawn Harris’s striking torn-paper illustrations layer white-on-white hues, with bolts of blue and an interplay of shadow and light, for a gorgeous view of a stark yet beautiful landscape. Simple and thought-provoking, illuminating and intriguing, this engaging picture book will have readers pondering the answer to its final question long after the polar bear has continued on his way.

If Winter Comes, Tell It I'm Not Here by Simona Ciraolo  

My thoughts: This delightful book takes a small boy through the seasons leading from summer's warmth and fun to the cold and sometimes dreary time of winter. His sister tells him winter is coming and he wants nothing to do with it.

The illustrations are fun and capture the essence of childhood fun during the seasons. I love the way winter is pictured at the end and the positive tone of the whole book.

About the book: Despite dire predictions about winter, a child is smitten by the season’s charms in this ode to living in the moment.

Nothing is better than summer, with its joys of swimming every day and eating ice cream. One little boy’s older sister tells him he’d better make the most of it, because summer is going to end soon. When winter comes, she assures him, it will be cold and dark, and the icy rain will turn to snow. They’ll be stuck on the sofa for days and won’t even dream of eating ice cream…. Simona Ciraolo’s expressive illustrations belie the bleak forecast with images of glowing autumn leaves, cozy couch snuggles, wintry play, and sweet desserts. A celebration of the changing of the seasons, this inviting tale shows how much fun can be found around every sunny—or snowy—corner.

In the Half Room by Carson Ellis

My thoughts:
Carson Ellis has a way with presenting the odd or quirky story and illustrations with which we frankly don't know what to do. So essentially when he gives us one of these to ponder, we and the children to whom we read must delve into our imagination to see where Mr. Ellis is leading us.

In the Half Room is not a book about math or fractions. Though one might see this aspect as a possibility. It is a time to see what half an object is. To draw one's mind to the half and not the whole.

He loses me when the "half a person" meets their "other half" to become one individual who then runs out the room. But at least it is a whole person. (Now adults can ponder what being half a person, half a mind, half an individual is like. But that is, of course, too philosophical for children - and some of us adults to ponder.)

While I can see some fun and imagination exercises in this book, it is a bit strange but not in a bad way. 

About the book: From the Caldecott Honor–winning creator of Home and Du Iz Tak? comes a gorgeous and quirky tale of a wholly extraordinary room where everything is a half.

The light of the half moon
Shines down on the half room…

The half room is full of half things. A half chair, a half cat, even half shoes—all just as nice as whole things. When half a knock comes on half a door, who in the world could it be? With inventive flair, Caldecott Honor winner Carson Ellis explores halves and wholes in an ingenious and thought-provoking picture book. Ink and gouache illustrations featuring wry detail and velvety textures conjure a dreamlike mood while leaving space for imagining. A celebration of the surreal and the serendipitous and the beauty of the two together, this brilliant picture book will have readers seeing halves with whole new eyes. 

2 Winners, Each Win 3 Books
Begins November 29
Ends December 20  @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses
(NO P.O. Boxes. Canadian winners must provide phone number)
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and sent directly to the winner by publisher, Candlewick Press, or publicist.

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