Shop Auto Winter Products Salon Beauty Best Books of the Year Black Friday Deals Week nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc For a limited time. 3 months for $0.99. Amazon Music Unlimited. New subscribers only. Terms and conditions apply. PCB for Musical Instruments $24.99 for a limited time only Try it first with samples Handmade Gift Shop Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video  Three new members of the Echo family Black Friday Deals Week: Fire tablets starting at $29.99. Limited-time offer. $30 off Kindle Paperwhite Just Dance 2018 Shop now HTL17_gno



on June 1, 2015
This has been the book of choice for my 7mo 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 truthful 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). And we learn that all the characters (except for the bear) are watching one of their peers. (As an aside, it's interesting that this society's only celebrity -- the titular bear -- is the only character to be watched by his peers without the power to watch back. I can only assume that this is Martin's commentary on the impotence of fame.)

As the camera pulls back, we learn that each animal is merely a minor player with myopic vision. In its dramatic, Usual Suspects-esque conclusion, we learn that we are not in a forest or frolicking in the outdoors, but we are in a classroom. An authority figure is introduced:

"Goldfish, goldfish, what do you see?"
"I see a teacher looking at me."

With the introduction of this (white) teacher we realize that these characters who seemed to be free, roaming in their natural habitat, are actually prisoners trapped in the hardbound confines of this book. And yet, even the teacher's vision is limited, for she too is trapped.

"Teacher, teacher, what do you see?"
"I see children looking at me."

The children are vastly more powerful and knowledgeable than any other character. For it is only they -- the readers themselves -- who see all of the characters.

"Children, children, what do you see?"
"We see a brown bear,
a red bird,
a yellow duck,
a blue horse,
a green frog,
a purple cat,
a white dog,
a black sheep,
a goldfish,
and a teacher LOOKING AT US.
That's what we see."

It is those three words -- "looking at us" -- that are most chilling.

If the animals were looking at the children this whole time, why don't they say so? When the bear was asked what he saw, he mentioned only the bird. When the bird was asked what she saw, she mentioned only the duck. Every single character in the book is looking at the children and yet every single one refuses to admit that they see them. It's only the authority figure who has the courage to acknowledge their presence.

How tight must the children's tyrannical grip be to force an entire population into unified submissive silence? The children have complete control, for they not only know everything about the world the characters inhabit, but they also have the power to destroy that world (as many of this book's youngest readers undoubtedly have).

It is the proverbial bear who is not to be poked. But through the bear's opening omission we learn that even he is too scared of the children to publicly acknowledge their existence. The true revelation to this book's opening question is not that the brown bear sees the red bird. It's that he also sees the omniscient, omnipotent children, but is too terrified to say so.

But the children know that he knows.

I don't believe the rumors that this book originated as recruitment propaganda by US intelligence agencies to entice young children to join an elite, "all-seeing" organization that has complete control over the rest of the population, including its powerless authority figures.

Instead, I like to believe that Martin wrote this book (just one year after regular US troops were deployed to Vietnam) as a subversive allegory daring to ask the question "Who watches the watchers?" A question more important today than ever before.

A+++. Would read again.
And again.
And again.
And again.
And oh dear God make it stop.
1313 comments| 332 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 19, 2017
This will be part of a bi-lingual library my daughter and son-in-law are building prior to the arrival of their first child. I think the concept is great. Book was perfect in every way and they read it to my daughter's stomach the other night! LOL
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 14, 2017
Had this in a hardback but it was our 1-year old grandson's favorite book and he was ruining the pages. This board book is the same story and his 3-year old sister has it memorized and "reads" it to him. A classic book that everyone should own.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 29, 2017
This was the first book my son could read on his own so I had to buy a few of them to give them away to my nephew and friends who recently had kids. Great beginner book that he used to love me reading to him until he started reading it to me. Such a proud dad moment. Thanks Brown Bear!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 9, 2015
This book may need no introduction to most parents, but if this review helps someone decide to buy it then I'm honored. What's not to like? It sets the standard for simple and creative communication, perfect for nurturing the young child's mind.

My kids know this book by heart, and even today as older kids the rhyme still emerges when certain animals are spotted in the landscape.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 3, 2017
I love this book & purchased it for a stocking stuffer for my granddaughter. The reason for three stars is because there was a little damage on top of a couple of pages.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 23, 2017
Classic kid's book. Can't start them reading soon enough - given as a shower gift. My own children and grandchildren loved this book - passing on the love of reading.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 7, 2016
Eric Carle books are great. Baby Bear is another nicely done volume. My two year old granddaughter loves it.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 5, 2016
This is one of our favorite books. We have printed out pictures of each of the animals in the book, laminated them, and then hide them in my 3 year old's bedroom with a removable tacky putty. I move them around as she remembers where they are, but as we read the book, I ask her to find the animals. I also made her binoculars by putting colored paper around two toilet paper rolls that I hot glued together and attached a string at one end to go around her neck, when monitored. She loves it and it makes the book and story that much more enjoyable. The hard board book is very durable and great!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 2, 2017
Our little one loves Eric Carle's illustrations - something about the high contrast and textures makes him want to go back to these books over and over again ever since he was 5 months old. If I ever get this book again, I would probably go for the bigger size, BUT this smaller one is pefect for little hands.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse