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Old Bear Board Book Board book – September 27, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. PreSchool-K—Henkes cleverly begins his story on the front jacket. Against a backdrop of red leaves and drifting snowflakes, a large and endearing molasses-colored bear, defined by sturdy dark brown lines, strides across the page. His journey continues through the opening spreads: it is obvious that this creature knows exactly where he is heading. By the time the story actually begins, Old Bear has found his den and lies sound asleep, oblivious to the swirl of winter around him. Dreams comfort him: once more a cub and surrounded by the colors of spring, he naps in a giant pink crocus. His dreams turn to summer where a daisy sun shines in the sky, leaves appear as butterflies, and clouds rain tasty blueberries. Old Bear dreams on through the seasons. Then, one day he awakens, stretches, and heads out into the real world where he is met with flowering trees, butterflies and tulips, and a glistening lake. Now, Old Bear is part of the wonder. As he did in Kitten's First Full Moon, Henkes has created a thoroughly delightful character filled with curiosity and sweetness and placed him in a simple tale that unfolds with a natural, rhythmical pace. And to fill out his cyclical story, the artist provides autumnal front endpapers and contrasting vernal back endpapers. Opportunities to introduce the seasons, colors, and animal hibernation abound. Old Bear will enrapture young listeners for years to come.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Henkes returns to the artistic style of his Caldecott Medal winner, Kitten’s First Full Moon (2004), and A Good Day (2007) in another picture-book celebration of simple, pure joy. All winter long, while snow falls outside his den, Old Bear lies silent and still in a deep sleep. In his dreams, though, he’s an active explorer who roams the woods, savoring each season’s pleasures: spring’s blooms, summer’s berries, fall’s fiery colors, and winter’s blazing stars. When Old Bear finally wakes, he finds a glorious and very real spring world. As in so many of Henkes’ books, nothing is superfluous. Every word, line, color choice, and composition element feels essential and fits beautifully into a common theme. The circle of the seasons, so clearly illustrated in the exuberant images, is echoed throughout the book, even in the text’s cyclical rhythms: “Old Bear slept and dreamed, dreamed and slept.” The elemental words and graceful pacing make this a perfect read-aloud for preschoolers. They’ll want to linger over the scenes of Old Bear’s whimsical dreams, rendered in bold outlines and color washes that move with the seasons from pastel spring through icy-blue winter. Young children already know what Old Bear discovers: the lines between imagined and real worlds are blurry, and each place is filled with wonderment. --Gillian Engberg --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Board book: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Brdbk edition (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062089633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062089632
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kevin Henkes is the author and illustrator of close to fifty critically acclaimed and award-winning picture books, beginning readers, and novels. He received the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon in 2005. Kevin Henkes is also the creator of a number of picture books featuring his mouse characters, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Lilly's Big Day and Wemberly Worried, the Caldecott Honor Book Owen, and the beloved Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. His most recent mouse character, Penny, was introduced in Penny and Her Song (2012); her story continued in Penny and Her Doll and Penny and Her Marble (a Geisel Honor Book). Bruce Handy, in a New York Times Book Review piece about A Good Day, wrote, "It should be said: Kevin Henkes is a genius." Kevin Henkes received two Newbery Honors for novels--one for his newest novel for young readers, The Year of Billy Miller, and the other for Olive's Ocean. Also among his fiction for older readers are the novels Junonia, Bird Lake Moon, The Birthday Room, and Sun & Spoon. He lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin. You can visit him online at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Catherine W. Hughes on January 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Snug and warm, Old Bear sleeps for winter. Dreaming of spring and being a cub again, he travels through a daisy sun summer and yellow and orange autumn to an ice covered winter. Old Bear sleeps and dreams only to melt away the winter into spring. He wakes up to a beautiful spring day, as if no time has passed. This father bear story will be loved by 2-5-year-old children the whole year long.
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Format: Hardcover
The brown old bear was snuggled up by the time the snow began to swirl outside his den. The last of the oak and maple leaves began to fall with the first flakes. He started to dream of spring when the lupines, daffodils and tulips sprang from the earth and began to bloom. The butterflies were flitting around and he dreamed that "he was a cub again." Everything was so oversized that he was able to curl up in a crocus. Next he "dreamed that it was summer" and the "sun was a daisy and the leaves were butterflies." His smiley face looked up to the clouds that were sprinkling blueberries. What a dream!

Autumn soon arrived in his dream. The colors of autumn surrounded him and "even the birds and the fish and the water" had those tints. Next he dreamed of winter where everything around him "was covered in ice." The sky was dotted with "stars of all colors." He was still fast asleep, snuggled in his den and protected from the elements. He turned this way and that and that way and this. Yawn! The old bear was waking up. What would he see when he came out of his den?

This is one of those lovely, snuggly books that are wonderful to read on a cold winter's night when everyone is anxious for spring to arrive. The storyline and text mesh perfectly and await little hands that will eagerly turn the pages for you when you read. This book and a stuffed brown bear to snuggle up with would be a perfect gift!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S. D. Ward on October 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. Simple idea but richly presented.You could imagine being there with OLD BEAR as he slept and dreamed. Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Donna Clair on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this for a little friend of mine and understand that she is incredibly happy when her mother reads it to her at bedtime.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W. Martin on June 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Old Bear sleeps through the winter and dreams of his cubling days. The highly imaginative illustration are just what one would expect of dream images, a daisy for the sun or rainbow colored stars in winter-scape sky.

Old Bear wakes from his dreams and peeks outside to see if it's still snowing and finds winter has left and Spring is in full bloom.

A feel good story for any bedtime ritual.

reviewed by author/illustrator of Watchers and illustrator of Rabbit's Song by S.J. Tucker
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By My 2 Cents VINE VOICE on March 26, 2012
Format: Board book
Old Bear; Kevin Henkes (2008) Harper Collins Children

Late one fall, even before the first snow fall, Old Bear curled up in a den for a long winter's nap. Off into a deep sleep, full of pleasant dreams, he dreams of springtime and his earlier days as a playful cub -- huge colorful flowers as large as trees. Summertime with the sun as big and bright as a giant daisy, and autumn dreams with all the colorful reds, orange and browns. Even the cold winter made him dream of ice and pretty bright stars.

When Old Bear finally wakes up it seemed like very little time had passed for him, but yet when he poked his head out of his den it was spring once again.

This is a lovely book, full of colorful illustrations (by the author). The story, about changing seasons, colors, and an introduction to animal hibernation, makes this a great choice, especially for pre-school children.

5/5 stars - loved it
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on July 21, 2013
Format: Board book
This is one of those books which is written and illustrated for children; a simple book really, but despite its childlike appearance, adults will be more than enchanted by not only the simple prose, but by the wonderful and colorful illustrations. I dare say that the older the adult, the closer will be the identification.

Old Bear has fallen asleep for the winter in the warm bole of a hollow tree. The snow begins, bear sleeps and he dreams. How delightful. His dreams take him back to the time when he was a cub and the world was bright and colorful. Trees were budding, flowers blooming, butterflies abound. Sweet summer days and showers fall and there are blueberries falling from the sky. Autumn comes and the world is filled with yellow, orange and brown and even the birds in the trees and fish in the water take on a fall like cast.

And Old Bear awakens. He blinks as he leaves his snuggly burrow. Is it still snowing? He blinks again. Oh my, spring has returned and it takes a moment for him to realize he is no longer dreaming. Bright flowers, butterflies, fluffy is a beautiful spring day once again....And life goes on.

The author, in addition to perfecting the prose in this one, has used overall color themes to represent the passing seasons. Shades of yellows, browns, blues, yellows and reds blend to tell a story all of their own in addition to the text. With a little imagination the young reader (and adult too) find themselves quite immersed in Old Bear's world. It would be very difficult to find anything amiss in this book. It is an ideal book to snuggle with as you read it with your child or grandchild.

This work was first published in 2008 and gets heavy use at our local library...where I found this one.

Don Blankenship
The Ozarks
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