Monday, February 17, 2014

Ask Mr. Bear: Timeless Story, Vintage Pictures

Ask Mr. Bear was originally published by Marjorie Flack in the early 1930's, but has not lost its charm with young children (or those who read to them).  Young Danny is preparing for his mother's birthday.  He asks many farm animal friends for suggestions, but still cannot find the perfect gift.  Finally, Mrs. Cow suggests
that Danny ask Mr. Bear.  Danny ventures through the woods alone (and with a hint of trepidation), but thanks to Mr. Bear's suggestion, is able to find just the perfect gift for his mother.

This is a sweet story to read around the time of a birthday or a visit to a farm.  It is not overly moralistic, but a great way for children to be reminded that the best gifts are not always material items.  The pictures are charming but definitely vintage.  Older preschool aged children might not be easily won over by them but adult readers will enjoy reminiscing about their own childhood picture books.

Who Loves It:
This book is perfect for ages 1-4, and accessible on various levels.  My 14 month old is already enamored with it and has asked for it again and again.

Why We Love It:

  • Repetitive language
  • Predictable text
  • Older toddlers will be able to chime in as you read a build literacy skills
  • Simple "home-adventure-home" story arc.  The book begins with Danny at home, follows him on his adventure, and returns home with him when he gives his gift to his mother.
  • Charming, vintage pictures
Activity Suggestions...
  • Younger toddlers can build language by practicing animal sounds as each animal is introduced and  labeling each animal
  • Older preschool aged children (in a small group) can take on the roles of Danny and the various animals and act the story out as you read
  • Children of all ages might enjoy a visit to a farm and talking about the different necessities we gain from animals
  • Use a felt set, stuffed animals, or puppets to retell the story.  

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