Big Bear Fair
by Grandma Krazy
EC Publishing, LLC.

"So many bears make quite an affair. Why are all those bears out there?"

Inspiration often starts at home, and this is no different for Grandma Krazy (author Kathy Barnett Blomquist), whose fictional children’s story about bears is inspired by her grandchildren. Utilizing a mixture of humor and adventure, a day in the life of bears is authentically captured from a child’s perspective and combined with an engaging writing style that encourages new, grade-school readers to savor both the illustrations and the new words that they will likely encounter.

Stylistically, the writing reads more like a nursery rhyme or poetry piece, which gives it a musical quality that will appeal to young readers. For instance, the rhyming of “chair,” “bear,” and “hair” or the repetition of “beware” and “scare” helps kids zero in on these particular words and build an instant connection. More importantly, the author has seemingly established boundaries for children. Instead of a plot featuring kids running outside to intermingle with the bears, the entire plot is unfolding from the confines of the living room, through the window. This demonstrates to young kids how to interact with nature and that it is both recommended to enjoy nature’s presence but to do it in a safe way. Almost immediately, the adult reader is apt to think of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” as a direct contrast in which Goldilocks dangerously meandered into a den of bears. As a result, this content is an ideal piece to be read as either a bedtime story or a group reading during classroom library visits.

Interestingly, in a story about bears, the author does a great job of introducing other animals such as a hare and a mare, while building a positive connection with nutrition, introducing fruits such as a pear. From enjoying a tree swing to trying out new outfits, the bears, on every page, are engaged in everyday human activities; to children, they are as relatable as other humans. At its core, the book does a commendable job of simultaneously establishing boundaries and portraying bears in a relatable light while giving parents an avenue to bond with their new readers. At a time when kids are beginning to experience and explore the world around them, a book like this is ideal for helping them understand how to engage with the outside world, particularly Mother Nature.

While the words are clearly important to help kids build their imaginations, the illustrations, particularly the facial expressions and mannerisms of the different characters, play a vital role in readers getting the full reading experience. Whether it is the smile of bear as he is flying through the air, the nonchalance of Javier the bear as he walks the mare, or the intently curious and determined look of the glasses-wearing bear that is playing solitaire, the illustrations serve to illuminate the descriptions and paint a vivid image in the child’s mind. Overall, this story is significantly deeper in meaning than a congregation of bears getting together to enjoy their day; it is an opportunity for students to feel emotions when connecting with the outside world. This text is a fitting read for individual readers and group story time sessions alike.

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