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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Board book – September 15, 1996

1,375 customer reviews

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Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? + The Very Hungry Caterpillar + Goodnight Moon
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Origins of Brown Bear

On a train ride in 1966, the title phrase Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? popped into Bill Martin Jr.'s head. Later, he spotted an illustration of a red lobster in a magazine and contacted the creator, Eric Carle, to ask if he would illustrate his poem. So began Eric Carle's career as a children's book illustrator--along with a life-long collaborative friendship with Bill Martin Jr. Since then, Brown Bear and the three companion titles, Polar Bear, Panda Bear, and Baby Bear, have gone on to sell millions of copies worldwide.

The Bear books are a cultural landmark and a key milestone in many children's reading lives. And many adults today remember reading the Bear books themselves as well as the experience of reading them for the first time to their own children. Whether in a picture book or a reader, and now in eBook and audio, the same bold graphics and repetitive, rhythmic text have truly stood the test of time.

Throughout Eric Carle's career, he has shown an unshakeable commitment to artistic integrity and a dedication to making art accessible to children. His skillfully designed and beautifully rendered collage art is admired by fellow artists, colleagues and fans in equal measure. And in 2002, with his wife Barbara, Eric founded The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, the first museum of its kind in the United States.

--Laura Godwin, Vice President and Publisher, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers


A Question for Eric Carle

Before the Bear books, you worked in advertising but had not yet created a children's book. What went through your mind when you first heard from author Bill Martin Jr. about the Brown Bear manuscript? What made you want to illustrate it?

Eric Carle: At that point I was doing work-for-hire and I was very pleased to have the chance to do something different. I went through the manuscript and could see in my mind images of bright colorful animals, big and bold and simple like in posters. I was actually able to finish the art for this book and deliver it in one weekend. The whole process felt right and I was very excited by the opportunity to work on the book with Bill, which really changed my life and set me on the true course in my career.

Eric Carle 1

Eric Carle at work in his studio, Northampton, MA

Eric Carle 2

Sketches of Mama Bear for Baby Bear

Eric Carle 3

Eric Carle, holding a sketch from Baby Bear

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Amazon.com Review

The gentle rhyming and gorgeous, tissue-paper collage illustrations in this classic picture book make it a dog-eared favorite on many children's bookshelves. On each page, we meet a new animal who nudges us onward to discover which creature will show up next: "Blue Horse, Blue Horse, What do you see? I see a green frog looking at me." This pattern is repeated over and over, until the pre-reader can chime in with the reader, easily predicting the next rhyme. One thing readers might not predict, however, is just what kinds of funny characters will make an appearance at the denouement! Children on the verge of reading learn best with plenty of identifiable images and rhythmic repetition. Eric Carle's good-humored style and colorful, bold illustrations (like those in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, and Have You Seen My Cat?) have earned him a prominent place in the children's book hall of fame. (Baby to Preschool) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 5 years
  • Lexile Measure: 440L (What's this?)
  • Series: Brown Bear and Friends
  • Board book: 26 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); Brdbk edition (September 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805047905
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805047905
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,375 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

477 of 495 people found the following review helpful By Julie Greeman on September 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a Kindergarten teacher in Connecticut, and have been using this book for many years. I have the Big Book, a regular-size Paperback version, and four small hardcover ones that I use with an original tape of Bill Martin reading the story. These books are much loved, and I decided to replenish my library with new ones, only to discover that for some reason known only to himself, Bill Martin decided to change the format. In the original version, the pictures helped give clues to the words, which emergent readers need: i.e "Brown bear, brown bear What do you see?" was on the page with the picture of the brown bear. The words "I see a red bird looking at me." and then "Red bird, red bird, what do you see?" were on the page with the picture of the red bird. In this newer, revised version, the page that contains part of the picture of the brown bear has "I see a red bird looking at me." on it. When you turn to the next page, with the picture of the red bird, you see the words, "Red bird, red bird, what do you see?" but then, on the same page you get the words "I see a yellow duck looking at me." No picture clue given. I don't like this version, and it's now impossible for me to obtain a copy of the original version. I think they must be out of print. So I'm holding on to mine for dear life! They're worth their weight in gold!
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99 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Greg Baugues on June 1, 2015
Format: Hardcover
This has been the book of choice for my seven month old daughter's bed time. We heard that it's better to read the same book over and over to young kids so that they become familiar with matching up the words and the sounds.

I know it seems like a simple book, but there's a lot more depth to be uncovered on repeated readings, as I've had the luxury of experiencing every night (and sometimes multiple times during the day) for the last three months.

It opens with a simple question: "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?" And if you were to judge this book by its cover, you might assume the bear to be the protagonist of the story. But as it unfolds, we are...

*** SPOILERS BELOW ***

... taken through a tour of the real and familiar (brown bears, red birds) along with the fantastically surreal (blue horses, purple cats). And despite the cartoonish illustrations and unassuming prose, we come to find that this is a world of paranoia and domestic surveillance. A world where neighbor spies upon neighbor.

"Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?"
"I see a red bird looking at me."

"Red bird, red bird, what do you see?"
"I see a yellow duck looking at me."

The book begins with a lie. When the red bird is asked, "What do you see?", the correct answer is "a brown bear." But she does not admit that she is spying on the brown bear, only complains that the yellow duck is spying on her.

As the pages turn, we learn that all characters are being watched: from the strong (the bear), to the useful (blue horse), to the outcast (black sheep). We learn that all characters know that they are being watched (presumably, this keeps them in line).
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119 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on September 11, 2000
Format: Board book
I've had three children who fell in love with this book around age two. It does a wonderful job of teaching colors, animals and rhyme to toddlers.
Aided by Carle's unique illustrations, this book begs to be chanted by the parent who will be reading it for the umpteenth time. ("Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me. Red bird, red bird, what do you see? I see a ....." etc., etc.) The cadence and rhythm of the words have fascinated my youngsters as they learn to identify different colored animals populating the pages of the book. Strictly a teaching tool, the book does not have a story per se, but it seems to be just right for the child who is just beginning to discover the larger world.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle is a classic book for young readers. The REPETITIVE (not rhyming) text is what makes the book easy for little ones to memorize. The book introduces the very young to animal names and color words. The simple, REPETITIVE text encourages even the youngest of readers to chime in. An excellent choice and a must have in your child's library.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By S. Patton Anderson on December 18, 2000
Format: Board book
I tried to interest my daughter in books early on (around 5 or 6 months) but she showed very little interest for a long time. She'd bat the book away, look elsewhere, or try to destroy the pages. I read in "The Read Aloud Handbook" that babies like simple pictures, so I picked up "Brown Bear" in the bookstore one day. For the first time, my daughter actually looked at the pages while I read a book. She's now almost 15 months, and she will choose this book over any other--she names the animals for me, and flips the pages back and forth, "reading" the book to herself. It's not the most interesting children's book I've ever read, certainly, but the rhyming and the pictures caught her attention, and got her interested in books. For that, this book is invaluable to me, and I'd recommend it to anyone.
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