Bear snores on was Karma Wilson’s first picture book, and this playful tale of friendship is our favorite of the bunch. Her lyrical rhymes tell a cute story of how an assortment of woodland creatures end up having a party as they one-by-one gather in a sleeping bear’s den while a raging winter storm “howl[s]” outside.
The inviting tale is told in a wonderful, flowing cadence that makes it easy to read. The wording is clever and never stilted, filled with simple wordplay. The rhythm, alliteration, and fun onomatopoeia (“gnarl” and “pitter-pat”) makes it easy for parents and kids alike to remember the words and fun to read aloud. A few simple word choices – talking about the “fluff-cold snow” of winter, how “glowing eyes sneak-peak” and “a badger scuttles by” or the way the animals “tweet and they titter. They chat and they chitter” as they share food and company – bring life and feeling to the story. The recurring refrain of “The bear snores on” is one small children can predict and recite.
When Bear finally wakes up, and how could he not with such party happening right around him, there is a scary moment as well as a moment of sadness, but they flow simply with the story and resolve quickly and gently. While my boys can empathize with the Bear, especially as they get older, they weren’t upset or scared by the waking and its ultimately sweet results.
Jane Chapman’s gorgeous illustrations fit beautifully with the text, and enhance the reading by skillfully showing what Karma is telling. Her delightful representations of the animals, complete with endearing expressions, and their surroundings provide wonderful visuals and breathe warmth and coziness into this winter tale. The way the text is printed, with some words being in all caps or in bold print or in smaller-than-normal type, also brings emphasis to various actions or emotions as the story unfolds.
This is a wonderful book for young children, as the cadence, the pictures, the word choices, and the repetitive structure all come together in a fantastic way that will hold their attention.
Importantly, this is a book that my husband and I can read to our boys over and over and over. It was on our nightly reading list for years and we still enjoy it ourselves. The twist at the end is funny, and relatable to sleep-deprived parents of little ones who may want to play in the middle of the night.
You can get your own copy of Bear Snores On HERE.