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Children's LiteratureJoining Gibbons' other bear books (polar, giant pandas), this one uses the format she has honed in some four dozen informational books. Text presents physical aspects of grizzlies, their habitats, food sources, birth and growth of baby grizzlies, and their present state. Pictures feature these bears in various natural settings with close-ups of such things as paws, jaws, and dens. But the artwork renderings look careless, the scale of grizzly newborn to the mother does not match the text description ("weighing about a pound" if the reader thinks of a pound of carrots or meat, for instance), the bear pictures are so similar that the pictures are nearly indistinguishable, and the three maps included show similar material such that the reader wonders if someone wasn't paying attention. Trees and flowers are indeterminate often, giving backgrounds a sameness as well. Sandra Markle's Growing Up Wild: Bears (Atheneum, 2000) is a much stronger book that uses a variety of well-chosen photographs and apt comparisons (a baby bear is about the size of a soda can) to convey information. Nothing wrong with the information here but it is just undistinguished in presentation. 2003, Holiday House, Ages 4 to 8.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.