And I know Sprout's not alone in his love for critters, which is why I tend to share so many of them here on the blog. (Also, I really like them - and it's my blog, so there.) Today's pick is one that will be a huge hit with the youngest kiddos, because it marries a concept and adorable animals. Honestly, take a look at the cover for Ashley Wolff's Baby Bear Counts One -- can you even stand the cuteness??
This title's a follow-up to Wolff's Baby Bear Sees Blue, which as you might expect was all about colors. With this outing, Baby Bear is watching some strange things happen in the forest around him. The animals are preparing for winter, and Baby Bear is noticing what they're up to -- and counting as he goes. Squirrels drop acorns on him, prompting Baby Bear to count how many of the quick gray critters are cavorting around (two, as it happens). Turkeys are filling up on grapes before the cold weather moves in, and Baby Bear counts six of them. And the geese are flying way in search of warmer climes -- this flock is nine strong, by Baby Bear's reckoning. Fortunately, everyone accomplishes what they need to before the snowflakes fly. And of course, Baby Bear counts those too!
Wolff uses linoblock techniques for the striking images throughout Baby Bear Counts One. I'm not sure how the illustrations could be better - drenched in color, strong graphics, and plenty of little visual surprises that kids can pore over. This would absolutely work for babies and toddlers too. Best of all, there's such a lovely sense of fall running throughout. I'm fully aware that it's spring now, and we should be reading about bunnies and chicks and all things vernal, but Baby Bear is just too cute to resist. Reading this one, you'll be so drawn into the fall preparations that you'll probably want to do what we did and snuggle up in the blankets to share this book one more time through.
For creature-minded kiddos, for talking about seasons, or for just sharing a concept book that gives even more than just one-two-three, Baby Bear Counts One is a charming addition to any kid's bookshelf!
Sample: "Deep down in the den, Baby Bear perks his furry ears. Thockthockthockthockthock! 'Mama, who woke me?' he asks. 'That is the woodpecker,' says Mama, 'hunting beetles before winter comes.' / Baby Bear counts 1."