Eat Like a Bear

April Pulley Sayre, Author, Steve Jenkins, Illustrator
April Pulley Sayre, illus. by Steve Jenkins. Holt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9039-0
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Sayre and Jenkins follow Vulture View (2007) with a similarly excellent study of brown bears that’s in equal parts poetic and enlightening. Clipped, second-person verse lets readers imagine themselves as bears that have just awoken from a winter’s hibernation. “Can you eat like a bear?” Sayre asks as the book opens. “Awake in April. Find food./ But where?” Repeated throughout as the months pass, the “find food” line reads like a mantra, underlining how much of a bear’s life is dedicating to acquiring food to sustain itself, not always an easy task (an elk calf proves too fast to catch). An extensive appendix—about bears’ eating habits, hibernation, and interactions with humans—explains that brown bears are omnivorous, and the book bears that out (no pun intended). In May, the brown bear “Chomp[s] parsnip stems” and dandelions, while later months have him eating ants, trout, roots, and an unlucky ground squirrel (“Grab and crunch/ a meaty lunch”). Jenkins’s torn-paper collages are typically exquisite in their naturalistic detail; the bark paper he uses for the bear is especially well-suited to capturing its grizzled, hulking furriness. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
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