Bear-ly There (Hardcover), by Rebekah Raye. This book tells the story of a young boy named Charlie that faithfully takes care of his pet geese. When Charlie notices an uninvited guest -- a large brown bear -- in the backyard coming to eat the geese's food, he fears for their safety. Other neighbors have been having problems as well (one even wants to shoot the bear), so Charlie creates a poster with six practical solutions for "What to do if you have a bear in your backyard" ("1. Only put bird feeders out during the winter months, when bears are hibernating.") He puts it on the town bulletin board. Later that day, the bear makes a return visit to their yard, and he and his family are ready with a cacophony of loud instruments to drive the bear back into the forest where he belongs. Their plan works, and when they spot the bear again during a family picnic, he is enjoying some blueberry bushes back in the woods. As Charlie concludes: "That's sure better than seeing him in our backyard!" The author, Rebeckah Raye, is also a painter and and sculptor, and she has illustrated the tale beautifully. Teachers and parents can find companion activities and classroom discussion topics on the Tilbury House website. (In part, "Activity: What Do Bears Eat? Using some of these websites or books in your school library, research what bears eat. Are bears herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores? What kinds of wild foods would bears find in your area? Why would bears be hungriest in the spring?" I love that the author has taken the time to come up with these and that the publisher has made them available.
"Charlie slowly looked around the corner of the house - there was the bear! When he saw Charlie, he turned and ran up the hill. The bird feeder was on the ground, empty. The compost pile was torn up and scattered over the lawn. It was time to come up with a plan to keep the bear where he belonged - in the woods."
Bookworm's interest at 22 months: We just "read" through the book together with me explaining the illustrations and making up my own text, as we often do with books that are clearly beyond his current age level. He sat through the whole book that way.
Parent's Peeve: None