Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
Having throwing back reads for our opening theme this year is so exciting. Although I don’t remember much of what I had read when I was a kid, there were a few books that had stayed in my memory bank throughout the years. The Berenstain Bears series created by Stan and Jan Berenstain was part of my childhood reads. The Berenstain Bears focuses on a family of anthropomorphic bears: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother Bear, and Sister Bear.
Blaze a Trail was the first Berenstain Bears book I’ve read, and I thought it was the silliest story ever! Blaze a Trail is a ‘first time readers’ book, told in short, rhyming verses. It tells the story of Papa Bear trying to help the Bear Scouts earn their merit badges in hiking. It wasn’t until one week after I started working as a librarian that I noticed a lot of Berenstain Bears books being circulated in our local library. I always see at least one Berenstain Bears book when I discharge materials in the back room. I remember discharging about 23 of these books in one sitting! I paid a visit to the children’s department a week ago and I was overwhelmed by the number of Berenstain Bears books that we carry. I suppose it’s safe to say that The Berenstain Bears is one of our more popular children’s books.
Another Berenstain Bears book I remember reading was called Trouble with Money. The materials was, unfortunately, checked out when I was rummaging through the shelves. I borrowed Trouble with Grownups and Bully instead. Unlike ‘first time readers,’ these two other books are classified under ‘first time books’ and are meant to be read by older children. ‘First time books’ have longer narrative text than ‘first time readers,’ and I find them less engaging than the latter. I read a little about The Berenstain Bears and found out that the series has been criticized for its tone and formulaic storytelling. Nevertheless, the series has gained much popularity since its first publication in 1962. The television series debuted forty years later. The TV series was fun to watch, but none of the later episodes were based on any of the books.
Then, of course, there’s Waldo, with his easily recognizable red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses. Known in the United Kingdom as Where’s Wally?, Where’s Waldo? is created by Martin Handford. Like the Berenstain Bears, Where’s Waldo? is another widely popular children’s book series that had a TV show counterpart. The TV series aired in 1991, and it used the original Where’s Wally? title. Interestingly, Wally has been given a name in local languages throughout the globe.
I borrowed four of these gigantic Wally books: Deluxe Edition, Fantastic Journey, Hollywood, and Wonder Book. Because I love fantasy-related things, Fantastic Journey was my favorite. All four books follow the same double-page spread format featuring a lot of people – sometimes, creatures! – doing a variety of things. The main objective is to find Wally in every spread. Readers are also asked to find Wally’s companions: Wenda, Odlaw, Wizard Whitebeard, and Wally’s dog, Woof. Twenty-five Wally impersonators are also scattered throughout the book. As you can see from the picture of a spread I took above, there is a flap on the left side with text boxes and a few small pictures. The text boxes contain additional items that you can find in the spread, and the pictures are actually made to look like ‘stamps’ that were taken during Wally’s travels. (Wally is known to be a world traveler and time travel aficionado.)
Where’s Wally? was my I Spy book back in the day.
Featured Book of the Day
Written and illustrated by: Benjamin Chaud
Published in English by: Chronicle Books (2014)
Book borrowed from Wayne County Public Library.
After all that talk about the Berenstain Bears and Where’s Wally? I thought it would be fun to include a short feature of Benjamin Chaud’s adorable picturebook that was nominated in the 2014 CYBILS, fiction picture book category. I borrowed The Bear’s Sea Escape without realizing that a book called The Bear’s Song was published before that, telling the earlier adventures of Papa Bear and Little Bear. (I have placed a copy of The Bear’s Song on hold already!)
The Bear’s Sea Escape follows Papa Bear on the biggest adventure(s) of his furry life as he searches for Little Bear who had gone missing due to a case of mistaken identity. The text is short and easy to follow, but Benjamin Chaud’s lush and vibrant illustrations are what caught my eye. Benjamin Chaud is a well-known French author-illustrator that has created picture books and a CD for children.
I love how this book reminded me so much of Where’s Wally? Like Martin Handford’s lovable picturebook series, The Bear’s Sea Escape has so much detail in every spread. Although it does not directly ask readers to find the bears, one cannot help but look for them in each setting. Every spread is bursting with bright, quirky, and illustrations that get readers involved in the story. The underlying theme of a parent’s love for his child resonates throughout the book. The Bear’s Sea Escape is a nice little treat to the young ones, and it’s definitely a book that both parents and children can fall in love with.