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WIDE-AWAKE BEAR by Pat Zietlow Miller


by Pat Zietlow Miller ; illustrated by Jean Kim

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-06-235603-1
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

While all bears grow heavy-eyed in the winter, some little cubs—like some little humans—are too anxious to sleep.

Elliott can’t quite catch a wink when his mother bear tells him it’s time to nap until spring. He misses the season too much—and he’s impatient for it to come. He tries again and again to lull himself to sleep (changing his position, fluffing the bark strips, plumping up his pine-needle pillow), but nothing works. He is “Still. Wide. Awake”—a pleasing refrain. When he starts seeing scary shadows, Elliott turns to his mother for comfort. She instructs him to look closer to see the signs of spring. Sure enough, Elliott sees a “brave bud” growing in the snow, and he decides that if spring is asleep, he may as well sleep too. The refrain, poetic imagery, and well-paced sentences make this a smooth read-aloud. Yet it’s a bit too text-heavy—explaining too much at times when the art could do the heavy lifting. Kim’s soft, digitally colored graphite pencil illustrations evoke the comfort of the winter cave. The endpapers, featuring slice-of-life depictions of fall and spring, are a fitting frame.

A warm, cozy counterpoint to Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s Bear Snores On (2002) but without the “Again! Again!” readability.

(Picture book. 3-6)