A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting, by Michelle Robinson, is one of those books that literally makes our family laugh out loud with every read. I was immediately taken by the cover and the cute little protagonist (not sure if it's a girl or boy, which in my eyes, makes it even better!) who looks like he's going on some grand expedition. I opened it up and was delighted at the fun story, and Pickle was too. This is a fantastic read aloud, and any book that sets out to "teach" my oldest how to do something grabs his attention immediately (and, of course, inspires question after question after question-- so many that I lose count!)
In this story, the child sets off on a jaunt through bear country. As he explores-- wouldn't you know it-- he runs into some real live bears! The narrator gives him instructions for how to handle these interactions- some that seem halfway intelligent, and others that are just downright goofy. Hilarity ensues, and everything the narrator advises gets sillier and sillier.
There is so much to love about this book, I could go on all day. The illustrations are terrific and enhance the text in the best way possible; each picture is all but guaranteed to make you laugh. The "instruction manual" pages are illustrated differently from the character's real world experiences, making the story easy to follow while enabling little ones to recognize how the protagonist attempts to put the instructions into action. I also love books that break the fourth wall (where the narrator speaks directly to the reader), and this one implements this technique brilliantly. The story's tone is conversational and almost conspiratorial. The reader feels as if he is on a mission together with the narrator, and the way the child looks at you as he works through his "instructions" is just priceless. These illustrations and pointed glances truly make the reader feel like he is involved with the child's every action which, to my big one, is the most entertaining part of the book. This story is a win-win: one your kids will never tire of hearing, and one you will never tire of reading. Two thumbs up!!
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