Big Brown Bear's Birthday Surprise

Overview

To celebrate Big Brown Bear's special day, his friend Rat has planned a lovely picnic on the riverbank. All is going swimmingly, complete with cucumber sandwiches, warm sunshine, and even a surprise gift from Rat. 
           
But when Big Brown Bear is suddenly distracted by an empty boat floating past on the river,...

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Overview

To celebrate Big Brown Bear's special day, his friend Rat has planned a lovely picnic on the riverbank. All is going swimmingly, complete with cucumber sandwiches, warm sunshine, and even a surprise gift from Rat. 
           
But when Big Brown Bear is suddenly distracted by an empty boat floating past on the river, Rat's plans for the afternoon take a watery turn. 
           
David McPhail throws Big Brown Bear a birthday party like no other in this warmhearted picture book that serves up action, excitement, and a generous portion of true good-natured friendship.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Lovable Big Brown Bear is back in a series of simply told, lively chapters. At a picnic with his friend Rat, Bear is reminded that it is his birthday. When Rat goes to retrieve his present, which he says has four letters and begins with B, Big Brown Bear spots a boat and thinks that is his present. Although told it is not, Bear decides to take Rat with him for a ride before they return it to the owner. The two manage to pick up a hat and a fishing pole from the water before they encounter and rescue the boat's owner, unfortunately also sinking the boat. Finally, Rat delivers the present, and the friends enjoy a birthday cake as well. Bear carries his pink blanket on the half-title page, unfurling it across the title page spread, while Rat totes the relatively enormous picnic basket on the dedication page. McPhail's pen deftly depicts this unlikely anthropomorphic friendship, setting the watercolor scene in a bucolic park with leafy greenery and a smoothly flowing river. It's a charmingly peaceful adventure.
School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 2
McPhail's illustrations are as sweet and whimsical as ever in this endearing story of friendship. During a picnic on the riverbank, Rat informs Bear that it's a special day; Rat has remembered Bear's birthday even though Bear has not. Rat even has a surprise present for his pal, something that "has four letters and begins with a B ." Just then, a boat floats down the river, and Bear jumps aboard, assuming that it is his gift. Rat joins him, explaining that the boat is not for Bear, and they row upstream, looking for its owner. After a brief adventure, they return to the picnic basket, and Rat gives Bear his gift, a ball that he happily balances on his nose. This picture book is divided into four brief chapters. The story reads aloud smoothly and the vocabulary is appropriate for beginning readers with some experience. The pen-and-ink and watercolor paintings are saturated with warm summer hues and support the quiet text with humor and élan. The affection shared by the two friends is conveyed through both the narrative and the artwork.
—June WolfeCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
McPhail's two good souls, Big Brown Bear and Rat, are down by the riverside, picnicking on cucumber sandwiches. Bear is thunderstruck to learn that it's his birthday: " ‘Really?' asked Bear. ‘How do you know?' ‘I remembered from last year,' said Rat. ‘Birthdays don't change. They are always on the same day.' ‘Amazing,' said Bear." When a rogue rowboat comes downstream, Bear and Rat hop in and start pulling upstream. A hat comes into view, drifting on the water, then a fishing pole, then a gentleman on a log-the boat's absentee owner. Bear and Rat help the man aboard, whereupon the boat makes its leisurely way to the bottom of the river. But no one's spirit does, especially after Rat gives Bear his birthday gift, which is not a boat. McPhail is on form; his story has an ingenuous, hand-holding sweetness that easily gives way to a comfortable embrace. The artwork is dreamily soft at the edges, with colors so fruity you could spread them on toast. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152060985
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/1/2007
  • Series: Big Brown Bear Series
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID McPHAIL has written and illustrated more than fifty books for children, including Mole Music, a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year and Sisters, as well as Big Brown Bear's Up and Down Day and Big Brown Bear Goes to Town, the companions to this book. He lives in Rye, New Hampshire.
 

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