There are many reasons to read and reread Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Matt Phelan.
True, it conveys the concept of hibernation for very youngest children, as the bear prepares for his long winter’s rest by eating well and then settling into a cozy spot. That also makes this an ideal nap or bedtime book, because the bear is winding down his activities.
But the best part is the wordplay. In the summer, “He eats the berries and the bushes, too. He’s a very full berryfull bear.” Matt Phelan shows a blueberry stuck to the end of each ursine toenail. As squirrels tuck acorns under oak trees, “a no-hair nose knows where to find them.” Long vowel sounds slow the pace, mirroring the bear’s transition to inactivity: soft white snowflakes “cling to bear hair (if there’s a bear there),” the text reads, as the bear becomes camouflaged by snow. The silver salmon the bear pursued in spring now “sleep deep” on the pond’s floor.
One last gasp of humor before the close as the furry fellow “scratches his big brown bear behind,” then settles down to sleep. This brief book accomplishes a lot in a short span, and your youngsters will want it close at hand.