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on October 26, 2017
Almost every kid that reads this book becomes Obsessed!! Board books are also best version for 1-3 year olds because they rip the pages of the regular version then act sad the pages are mysteriously missing. Buy this for every small child you know. Best gift ever. You need one for your car and one for your house. Lol
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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!
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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.
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on April 22, 2017
I bought this because my daughters loved Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and was not as taken with this version. It is full of more complicated animal types that do not flow easily with the rhythm. I have yet to memorize this book (and I've memorized ALL of the others that we own), which makes it hard to read when you're trying to tilt it so multiple kids can see the pictures. The illustrations are nice, and my daughters do like it, but I'm definitely not as big a fan of this book as the original.
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on February 23, 2017
This is a re-purchase - kids love to slide the little hiding places open and closed to expose each thing that Brown Bear spies, so it's a go-to gift whenever there's a little one needing a board book. The colors are bright, the pages are sturdy and the story holds their attention. With adults reading to them, they'll soon learn colors and various kinds of animals, and the last page exposes them to the concept of a classroom and teacher. As with any book, the child will get out of it as much as the reader puts into it, so it's an especially fun book to spend a lot of time on, asking the child questions ("Are cats really purple?" "What's the dog doing?"), pointing out letters of the alphabet that are also in the child's name, getting them psyched about things that happen at school, etc. This book is great to give to new grandparents (or aunts/uncles or babysitters) to keep at their houses for special one-on-one time, and it's short enough that it can be a good going-to-bed book.
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on June 3, 2016
Its hard to find books newborns and infants... They wont really pay attention to many books, and I have PLENTY that I have tried. I started reading this to my son starting at 1-2 months and he has loved it! He is now 7 months and loves it too! Its short, sweet, and has a cute rhythm to it (does not rhyme). The pictures are vibrant enough to catch his attention and not overly cluttered. There is just one animal on each page and babies love that... Clear outline of an animal. I have other books with seemingly pretty illustrations that are bright and colorful but my son could care less about those.

I highly recommend this book and even buy it as gifts for new moms! It is a classic for every nursery.

Also, I want to note that I dont get sick of reading it over and over...
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on July 17, 2017
I enjoyed these books as a kid and particularly enjoy reading this one to my 3.5mo son! I call to him "Baby!" from time to time and he LOVES that I do that with this! Vibrant colors, large front, and very well put together!
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on September 21, 2017
Despite this book being a classic, I wasn't sure my toddler would actually like this because of its illustrations. But I was wrong...he loves this book! Great book for teaching basic animals and practicing animal sounds together.
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on September 26, 2017
My kids and I adore this book! Because of this I bought it for my 5 month old for Christmas. I just received it today and I'm slightly dispointed with Amazon. The book had clearly already been opened multiple times by the crease on the back of the book, and the edges were "splintering" in a way. Overall, the book is in decent condition but I'm greatly dispointed with the fact that my son won't be able to be the first person to you know break open the book, if that makes sense. Oh well I guess.
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Top Contributor: Babieson August 21, 2016
Positives
Great board book
Introduces animals
Introduces Colors
Very repetitive (which can be positive or negative)
Fun read for 2-4 or maybe 5 years old
Nicely illustrated
Plenty of rhythmic repetition
HIGHLY RECOMMEND
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