Where are you Bear?
I get an obscene amount of spam offering me everything from a good time to magical pills that would enhance body parts I don’t even have. Recently I found buried among the junk an email from Owlkids Books that knocked my sock off. It was an offer to go through their 2011 catalog and pick any book (or books) I wanted for my blog review, B is for Books. I was super excited! Owlkids and I go way back, I grew up on their magazine series for kids. Owl, ChickaDEE and Chirp kept me engrossed for hours; they were filled with activities, fun facts, illustrations and stories.
Excited to see what was new with Owlkids, I spent the rest of my afternoon pouring through their catalog. Not wanting to impose, I restrained my selection to three of their books. I am looking forward to sharing them with you. Keep reading…
First up is a Canadian alphabet adventure, Where are you Bear? written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Sean L. Moore. Did I mention that Owlkids is a Canadian publisher that prints Canadian content and supports Canadian talents?
Sophie is about to embark on a cross-Canada trip with her dad to visit her grandma in Vancouver, but she can’t find her bear anywhere and is forced to leave him behind. Sophie travels across the country on her own. Once Bear discovers that Sophie is gone, he sets off on his own adventure – chasing after Sophie.
Unlike many alphabet books, Where are you Bear? also features a story that progresses as each new letter is presented. The writing is really simple, just couple of words strung together. Follow Sophie and Bear as they travel through all 13 provinces and territories, encountering many animals, people, sights, sounds and tastes that are uniquely Canadian. There were some letters that I had a hard time connecting the art to. For example, “‘U’ is for Up” shows an Olympic facility, but I have no idea what sport is it for and how is it related to “Up”? There were also some words I thought were too universal like “S” is for sunset and “Y” is for yacht. I think they could have been more uniquely Canadian, like Snowshoes or the Yellow wheat of the Prairies!
Sean L. Moore comes from an animation background so it’s not a surprise that his artwork reminds me of shows I have seen on Teletoon; bright, cheerful and animated. Digitaly created, the images are made up of bold flat graphic shapes. Sophie and Bear’s adventures are illustrated side by side with Sophie’s travels on the left-hand page and Bear’s on the right-hand page. The scenes move across Canada from east to west with each province and territory labeled by banners pulled by airplanes across the sky. A very clever way for readers to track Sophie and Bear’s progress! Another helpful tracking tool: flip to the end pages and find printed maps of Canada with the corresponding letters marking the region that Sophie and Bear visited.
Where are you Bear?, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author Frieda Wishinsky
Frieda Wishinsky was born on July 14th, 1948 in Munich, Germany. Originally from Poland, her parents were married while in a Displacement Camp at the end of World War II. Wishinsky was one of the first kids born to parents who were living in Displacement Camp. At eight months old, Wishinsky and her parents received their transfer papers and headed for New York.
Frieda Wishinsky earned a B.A. in International Relations with honors in History and a Master of Science in Special Education. Wishinsky spent her career teaching children and adults with learning disabilities. While teaching she began to write. Wishinsky didn’t want her students thinking that writing was an activity adults impose upon them so she always wrote with her students. Wishinsky’s transformation into a writer was slow. It took a couple years, a lot of rejection letters and a great deal of determination to get her first book published; Frieda Wishinsky is now a full time author.
It seems odd that an American wrote a Canadian alphabet book but Frieda Wishinsky has been living in Canada since the 70’s that I think make her an honorary Canadian.
To find out more about what Frieda Wishinsky has written over the years, check out her website www.friedawishinsky.com
Illustrator Sean L. Moore
Born and raised in Toronto, Sean L. Moore currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia. Growing up Moore was fascinated with Jim Henson and the Muppets; he wanted to be like his mentor, to create his own characters and bring them to life. Moore enrolled Sheridan College animation program where he trained as a classical animator.
Slowly over the years Moore has been making a name for himself both as an author and an illustrator in the field of children’s books. For inspiration Moore looks towards talented authors and illustrators like Maurice Sendak, Mary Blair, Ezra Keats, Roald Dahl, Oliver Jeffers and Dr. Seuss.
Moore spends a great deal of time researching his subject before starting on any project, a practice he picked up during his training as an animator. Gathering as much visual or written information as possible, Moore believed that a solid foundation helps strengthen a story and makes it more believable.
Take a look behind the scenes with Sean L. Moore; follow his blog www.freshsmoores.blogspot.com
Publisher Owlkids Books (October 1, 2010)