Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A father and his four children--a toddler, a preschool boy and two older girls--go on the traditional bear hunt based on the old camp chant: ``We're going to catch a big one. / What a beautiful day! / We're not scared. / Oh-oh! Grass! / Long, wavy grass. / We can't go over it. / We can't go under it. / Oh, no! / We've got to go through it!'' The family skids down a grassy slope, swishes across a river, sludges through mud and, of course, finally sees the bear, who chases them all back to their home. It's a fantastic journey--was it real or imagined?--with the family's actions (and interaction) adding to the trip a goodnatured, jolly mood. The design of the oversized volume alternates black-and-white drawings with gorgeous full-color watercolor paintings, which Oxenbury uses to wonderful effect. Readers accustomed to her board books will find a different style here, of puddled colors and sweeps of light and shadow. The scale of the pictures and the ease with which the text can be shouted aloud make this ideal for families or groups to share. Ages 4-9. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
This delightful picture book makes a new appearance as a board book, and it is wonderful. The same mix of black and white illustrations accompanied by a rhythmic text, which alternate with full-color spreads full of onomatopoeia, are still there as the family ventures through fields across streams and through icy landscapes until they meet up with a bear in its cave. It's a fantasy adventure that ends with the whole family snuggled under the comforter in the parents' big bed, and now the board book crowd will get to enjoy the fun. 1997 (orig.
There are some books that instantly become favorites with the preschool crowd and the parents and teachers who work with them. We're Going on a Bear Hunt is definitely one of them. Publishers sometimes try to find other avenues where they can market the book and often turn to audio books. A wonderful alternative, an audio book allows children to listen to the story independently again and again which helps them to make the speech to print match as reading begins. This particular audio book format is something of a disappointment, however. Rather than providing the means for children to revisit the story independently, the producers of this CD focused on providing the background noises that one might encounter when going on a bear hunt. For example, there is the splooch sound of a boot emerging from wet mud, the swish of grass as the characters walk through the knee-high field, etc. While this is all well and good, the end product is a CD that is usable only in concert with parent and child and even then is ineffective. The CD asks the child to "repeat after me" but never provides any modeling. There were many such good ideas but they were not fully developed. A better format would have been a package containing the book and a CD that offered extensions for learning. That way, parents or preschool teachers would have a resource to truly go beyond the book. A simple audio book with accompanying tape would have been sufficient. 2002, Candlewick Audio, Ages 3 to 5.
Joan Kindig, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
PreS-K-- From England comes this refreshing interpretation of an old camp hand-rhyme presented in large picture-book format. The setting is the beach and its environs. The cast: five hunters (a man and four children) and a dog, all of whom stalk the furry beast through coastal landscapes, oozy mud, an unlikely snowstorm, and finally, into the cave where they meet the object of their search. And, just as in the old tale, they reverse their steps and, in this version, end up in bed under the covers, vowing never to go on a bear hunt again. The beautiful pastel watercolor paintings that fill the huge pages alternate with soft-textured charcoal sketches. The most impressive of the black, white, and gray drawings is the full-spread storm as it approaches. The final ``reverse'' scenes are small blocks, three to a page in rapid succession, in sync with the rushed pace of the text. Even the endpapers lend themselves to the mood of the tale. In contrast to the sunny beach featured at the front, a lonely bear walks the beach in the moonlight at the back of the book. The characters' faces are round and filled with expression. The rhyme is printed in a large, almost calligraphic typeface that leaps off the page, alive in onomatopoeic expression (``squelch squerch!'' and ``Hoooo woooo!'') and reassurance for young listeners (``We're not scared''). This version adds vitality to Sivulich's more traditional I'm Going on a Bear Hunt (Dutton, 1973; o.p.). Readers and listeners will delight in this imaginative pursuit over and over again. --Marianne Pilla, Upper Dublin Pub . Lib . , Dresher, PA