Reviews for Old Bear
Booklist Reviews 2008 June #1
*Starred Review* Henkes returns to the artistic style of his Caldecott Medal winner, Kitten's First Full Moon (2004), and A Good Day (2007) in another picture-book celebration of simple, pure joy. All winter long, while snow falls outside his den, Old Bear lies silent and still in a deep sleep. In his dreams, though, he's an active explorer who roams the woods, savoring each season's pleasures: spring's blooms, summer's berries, fall's fiery colors, and winter's blazing stars. When Old Bear finally wakes, he finds a glorious and very real spring world. As in so many of Henkes' books, nothing is superfluous. Every word, line, color choice, and composition element feels essential and fits beautifully into a common theme. The circle of the seasons, so clearly illustrated in the exuberant images, is echoed throughout the book, even in the text's cyclical rhythms: Old Bear slept and dreamed, dreamed and slept. The elemental words and graceful pacing make this a perfect read-aloud for preschoolers. They'll want to linger over the scenes of Old Bear's whimsical dreams, rendered in bold outlines and color washes that move with the seasons from pastel spring through icy-blue winter. Young children already know what Old Bear discovers: the lines between imagined and real worlds are blurry, and each place is filled with wonderment. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
During the winter, an old bear dreams of his cubhood through the seasons in four glorious, vividly colored spreads. The original edition's design and construction were in sync with the story's soft, subtle nature. This board book's smaller size lessens the book's impact a bit, but simplicity of the text and art help overcome any shortcomings.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
An old bear settles down to take his long winter nap. He imagines his cubhood through the seasons in four glorious, vividly colored spreads. Henkes keeps text and art timelessly simple. Likewise, everything about the book's design and construction, including the front and back jackets, covers, and endpapers, is also in sync with the story's soft, subtle nature and theme of change. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #6
Using the thick-outline style of Kitten's First Full Moon (rev. 5/04) and A Good Day (rev. 3/07), Henkes delivers another winner for very young children. An old bear settles down in brown falling leaves and white falling snow to take his long winter nap. While asleep, he imagines his cubhood through the seasons in four glorious, vividly colored spreads: spring pinks and purples, summer blues and greens, autumn reds and yellows, winter blues and whites. Finally awakening with a big yawn, he exits his cave, wide-eyed as a cub: "And when Old Bear walked out into the beautiful spring day, it took him a minute to realize that he wasn't dreaming." Celebrating the yearly surprise of changing seasons, Henkes keeps his text and art classically and timelessly simple. Everything about the design is in sync with the book's soft, subtle nature and theme of change. The bold sans serif type is the same color as the outlines in the art; during the central dream section, the type and outlines change colors to create spreads that glow with purple, green, red, and blue. Likewise, readers will appreciate the book's coherent construction, which incorporates the front and back jacket, the front and back covers, the endpapers, and everything in between. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2008 July #2
When Old Bear sleeps, he dreams of being a cub and of the changing seasons. When he wakens and steps out into the soft pastels of Henkes's spring, he does not feel the passage of time, and in expression and carriage he exudes youthfulness. Many careful choices are made in a book that only seems uncomplicated. As bears go, smiling Old Bear looks as friendly as the teddies children cherish. His benign but shaggy appearance will invite them to learn many concepts, in the gentlest and most implicit way: youth and age, hibernation and renewal, the passage of seasons. Watercolor-and-ink paintings are bright but delicately hued. Bear's bold outline changes with the palette of each season. His fanciful dreams, as well as the spring "reveal," are full bleed, double-page spreads while other illustrations are neatly framed, emphasizing the ursine bulk. Confident, harmonious and sweet. (Picture book. 2-6) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 July #1
In time for autumn, Henkes (Kitten's First Full Moon ) masterfully tells of a hibernating bear who "dreamed that spring had come and he was a cub again." Henkes's surefooted art guides readers through time: a terracotta dust jacket and acorn-brown frontpapers inked with dark brown leaves set the season. The tawny bear, pictured in full-page or four-to-a-page images, curls in his den, his eyes closed and his paws relaxed. Full-bleed spreads depict his dreams, first of being small among enormous flowers ("He took a nap in a giant pink crocus"), then of wandering on lush green summer hillsides ("The sky clouded over, and it rained blueberries"). His hibernation vision of fall includes rust-colored birds and orange fish, and his imaginary winter is a cool blue expanse under stars "of all colors." When the bear's eyes open on a real spring day, he feels refreshed, if larger and older than his dream self. Lyrically describing the young-at-heart, Henkes plays an artist's game of hot and cold watercolor hues. Lilac endpapers crowded with flowers and butterflies and a back cover image of the bear in springtime balance the cover's imagery and gently and calmly acknowledge the annual cycle. Ages 2-7. (Sept.) [Page 57]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 September
PreS-K-- Henkes cleverly begins his story on the front jacket. Against a backdrop of red leaves and drifting snowflakes, a large and endearing molasses-colored bear, defined by sturdy dark brown lines, strides across the page. His journey continues through the opening spreads: it is obvious that this creature knows exactly where he is heading. By the time the story actually begins, Old Bear has found his den and lies sound asleep, oblivious to the swirl of winter around him. Dreams comfort him: once more a cub and surrounded by the colors of spring, he naps in a giant pink crocus. His dreams turn to summer where a daisy sun shines in the sky, leaves appear as butterflies, and clouds rain tasty blueberries. Old Bear dreams on through the seasons. Then, one day he awakens, stretches, and heads out into the real world where he is met with flowering trees, butterflies and tulips, and a glistening lake. Now, Old Bear is part of the wonder. As he did in Kitten's First Full Moon , Henkes has created a thoroughly delightful character filled with curiosity and sweetness and placed him in a simple tale that unfolds with a natural, rhythmical pace. And to fill out his cyclical story, the artist provides autumnal front endpapers and contrasting vernal back endpapers. Opportunities to introduce the seasons, colors, and animal hibernation abound. Old Bear will enrapture young listeners for years to come.--Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA [Page 148]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.