Saturday, October 10, 2009
A Visitor for Bear
Written by: Bonnie Becker
Illustrated by: Kady MacDonald Denton
Recommended Ages: 2-6
This is a lovely, heart-warming picture book about an unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse. It begs to be read aloud, and in fact recently won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award for 2009. The E. B. White Read Aloud Award was established in 2004 by the Association of Booksellers for Children to honor books that are wonderful read alouds.
Anyway, A Visitor for Bear begins with a curmudgeonly bear just beginning to make his breakfast when he hears a tap, tap, tap at his door. He opens it to find a mouse, "small and gray and bright-eyed." The bear points to the sign on the door that says NO Visitors Allowed, and says "Go Away!" He then goes back to making his breakfast. But lo and behold, it's not quite so easy to get rid of the little mouse, who keeps popping up-- first in the cupboard, then the bread drawer, the refrigerator and finally the teapot.
Every time Bear finds Mouse he tells Mouse to "Vamoose," or to get "Out" or "Be Gone!" The mouse, very politely, always asks if they could just have a spot of tea, with perhaps some cheese.
Finally, because he can't seem to get rid of the mouse, Bear agrees to have a cup of tea. Mouse asks him if he could also make a fire. As they sit by the fire in silence, Bear says that the fire is nice. Mouse agrees it is "lovely." And it's here that Bear's heart softens a bit, because no one has ever called his fires lovely. He stands on his head for Mouse and tells a joke (and Mouse laugts). When Mouse announces it's time for him to go and Bear throws his body across the pathway and says "Don't Go!" Mouse reminds him that he gave his word to stay for just a cup of tea and points to the No Visitor sign. At which point Bear tears up the sign and says "That's for salesmen. Not for friends." And they go back into the house for more tea.
What makes this such a sweet story, is how Becker has created two distinctive characters with very individual mannerisms and speech. Bear is grumpy and you will have fun putting on a grouchy, deep voice. Mouse is a little more formal and quite precise in his speech. Somehow I think a high-pitched English accent would work well. The muted watercolor illustrations are very inviting, and create a warm world that children will want to visit over and over.
If you want a little more Bear and Mouse, check out A Birthday for Bear. Also, coming out in Spring 2010 is A Bedtime for Bear, a story about Bear and Mouse having their first sleepover. Stay tuned; it's sure to be a winner.
BookNosher Tidbit: In the year since A Visitor for Bear has been released, it has garnered quite a few awards, including:
Foreward Magazines Book of the Year for Picture Books
Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text
Amazon picked it as Best Picture Book for 2008
2009 Notables Book of the Association for Library Service for Children
Selected for the new Oprah Children's Book Club as a great read for 3-5 year olds
BookNosher Activity: A Visitor for Bear made me want to put a pot of tea on and call some friends over for some tea and cake. I think it's the perfect time for your child have a tea party with some favorite stuffed animals by the fire. Here's a link to an easy "pat-a-cake-scone" recipe.