Wild About Bears
Jeannie Brett, author & illustrator
Jeannie Brett has illustrated many books, including M Is for Mayflower: A Massachusetts Alphabet and My Cat, Coon Cat. She wrote and illustrated Little Maine. She lives in York Harbor, Maine.
Read more about Jeannie.
- AAAS's Science Books & Films Best List
- NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
Readers may be surprised to learn that only eight species of bears exist on the planet (polar, brown, spectacled, sloth, sun, giant panda, and North American and Asiatic black bears). This fact-filled guide provides an overview of each species, focusing on their physical and behavioral characteristics in relationship to their environments. After initial introductory paragraphs, Brett scatters brief, captionlike sentences throughout her warm, naturalistic watercolor scenes. “The long, curved claws and bowed legs of the sun bear make it an excellent tree climber,” she writes as two are shown high in the branches of a tall tree, one licking at a beehive. A solid introduction to bears, their habits, and the challenges they face.
Both text and artwork support this book's title: full of facts, but only those emphasizing endearing bear habits; full of gentle watercolors that show peaceful bear-family scenes.
The book is laid out logically. After an initial double-page spread introduces the fact that our planet hosts eight bear species, subsequent spreads address each of the following: physical traits; general behaviors; each of the eight species; environmental concerns. Children who delight in learning animal facts will revel in such sentences as, "Asiatic black bear nests look a lot like large bird nests and may be found 60 feet up in a tree." There's plenty of new, gracefully defined vocabulary too, as in plantigrades and vacuoles. Brett highlights details in physiology and habitats to differentiate the species from one another and gives scientific and common names for each. Despite the scientific, almost dry text, the bears' faces and body language border on anthropomorphism, with several bears gazing winsomely at readers. This helps to reinforce the author's assertion that humans need to protect bears and their habitats for everyone's mutual benefit. However, the older the reader, the less likely their acceptance of perpetually well-behaved bears. There's not even one fierce, upright grizzly!
With its clear text and illustrations, this introduction is just the ticket for younger elementary readers.
School Library Journal
There are only eight species of bears on Earth, and Brett examines each of them. Opening spreads discuss general physical traits and behavior; a double-page chapter is then devoted to each species. Many facts are scattered throughout the captions for the art as well as in the main text, but font sizes help guide readers’ eyes to keep the text from becoming overwhelming. The watercolor illustrations depict the bears’ habitats as well as behaviors, and a world map indicates their range. A useful addition.
In her latest informative picture book, Brett shows not only how varied the world's eight species of bears are but also how much they have in common. In a series of engaging double-page watercolors, Brett depicts bears in various habitats doing their typical activities--hunting, exploring, eating, and sleeping. Fun facts—for example, "The sucking noise of the sloth bear's snout can be heard from 300 feet away"—are liberally scattered throughout the spreads in a smaller font size. Fully aware of the cuteness factor of cubs, Brett features a mother bear and at least one cub in almost all of her paintings. (And as the section on North American black bears reveals, one mother may give birth to different colored cubs, including some that look like polar bears.) Brett ends her text with the reminder that humans should think about protecting bears and the ecosystems in which they live. Also included in the back matter are a habitat glossary and a map, which shows where in the world the eight species live.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-738-5 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-636-4 PDF
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Page count: 32
11 x 8 1/2
Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
Reading Informational. Grade 2. Standards 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10.
Reading Informational. Grade 3. Standards 1-5, 7, 8, and 10.