Some authors just have it – that ability to write stories in rhyme for young children that simply dance off the page and spill off the tongue with a tempo and fluidity that make them so easy to read aloud and so captivating for a child to listen to. Karma Wilson is one such author, whose work I have learned to appreciate this year.
Karma’s books were part of my long to-be-read list that I took with me to the US this summer – books I didn’t have access to where I live in France. My first of five library visits during my vacation, took me to the splendid central, public library in New York. I piled up maybe twenty picture books on the floor and flopped down next to them on the rug in the children’s area. I immediately became a magnet to a bunch of young children unused, I guess, to an adult reading these alone. Unable to shake off inquisitive little intrusions, I ended up reading “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson to a bunch of them, which, of course, they adored.
I decided I needed to add one of Karma’s books to my own picture book collection, so today’s review is “Bear Stays Up” written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman.
“The day before Christmas,
snuggled on his floor,
Bear sleeps soundly
with a great big snore.”
The scene is set – will Bear hibernate through yet another Christmas day, or will his faithful band of animal friends manage to keep him awake? Having read quite a few now in the Bear series, I, like all children, can’t wait to see what this group of friends will get up to – Mouse, Mole, Hare, Gopher, Badger, Wren, Raven, and, of course, Bear. Jane Chapman’s illustrations of these forest animals are rich, full of emotion and wonderfully flesh out each of the characters, partnering perfectly with the text.
Well, everyone pitches in to keep Bear awake as they go through the typical pre- Christmas day preparations of finding the tree, decorating it, hanging up stockings, singing carols…. Finally, as Christmas Eve comes to a close, all the animals are weary from their festive exertions and fall asleep. Bear alone remains awake now, and in the usual spirit of friendship of all the Bear books, he busies himself with making Christmas surprises for his friends. He does not, however, see the biggest surprise of all, Santa making a visit that Christmas Eve night!
Karma manages to vary pace and tone with her rhyme, and yet adds enough predictability to engage pre-K children with ease. The illustrations are truly priceless, filling each two-page spread with warm brown tones of the lair’s interior or purples and blues of a snowy midwinter’s night, and bringing each animal to life. You’ve time to buy this one to set the tone for this Christmas.
For all you aspiring writers, I encourage you to follow and interact with, where you can, authors in your genre whom you admire. You can like Karma’s Facebook Page and not only enjoy her humour, but also regular, helpful writing tips that she gives.
This is #90 in the There’s a Book Read to Me Picture Book Challenge.