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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Big Hungry Bear

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear / by Don and Audrey Wood

What's the only thing a little hungry mouse can do with a red ripe strawberry when a big hungry bear is expected any minute? Why, eat it, after sharing, of course!

And that is what he does in this sweet book with huge eye-catching illustrations inviting requiring the reader to participate and propel the narration forward.

The brilliance of it, to me, is that, left to its own devices, the mouse would have happily picked the strawberry and enjoyed it in its own leisure. But, us readers are obligated to play this sort of devil's advocate, egging the little Mouse on, leaving the threat of a (non-existent) Bear hanging, with the ulterior motive of getting a bite of that sweet juicy strawberry for ourselves.

The text is simple even if it has a few words that are possibly not part of a typical toddler vocabulary, but the pictures easily explain the meaning without me having to. The page showing the mouse and the strawberry in disguise never fails to elicit giggles every time we read it.

The mouse is incredibly adorable, and the strawberry seems like a mutant giant next to the tiny mouse who scrambles to keep it from Bear's hungry paws.

The book also talks about sharing. Of course, Bear is never in the pictures, even if he is in the picture. Just the anxiety of losing this ripe juicy meal to a large and strong Bear seems to drive the mouse as he tries to save the strawberry for himself. And, the relief and elation he feels in the end after having eaten it (and sharing half with the reader) is simply precious.

The illustrations are superb and imposing, and at the same time delightful and dreamy. Both my kids cannot turn the pages of this book in a hurry!

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