Written by Maureen Wright, Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Marshall Cavendish Children, 2009
Old Man Winter from a storm cloud spied
his big bear friend in the countryside.
He leaned to the earth, and softly sighed,
“Sleep, Big Bear, sleep.”
The plot in a nutshell: A bear repeatedly misunderstands Winter’s words.
Winter tells Big Bear to go to sleep, but instead, he hears ‘drive a jeep,’ so he commandeers a jeep and drives around the park. Winter tells him again and he mishears it as an instruction to sweep, so he goes to a nearby house and sweeps it clean. He continues to misunderstand and after leaping, diving deep and climbing a mountain steep, he is very tired and cold, now that winter is officially underway. Fed up, Old Man Winter yells at him to go to bed and finally, Big Bear understands and heads home to get some sleep.
This was the debut picture book from author Maureen Wright and in addition to writing other books, she has also written a sequel (Sneeze, Bear, Sneeze!) in which we see Bear in the autumn. The story is told in an easy to read rhyme that practically lulls you to sleep as you read it. But the humorous way that Bear misinterprets the words adds some fun to the story, making it more than just a goodnight book. I like the way that Bear tries to comply with every directive, even though you can clearly see him getting more and more tired as the night wears on. Illustrator Will Hillenbrand gives us beautiful full page pictures, setting the story in a lovely and rustic mountain area and giving Bear a brown rabbit companion who stays with him throughout the book.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that making sure you clearly understand instructions (especially ones that seem odd) before you act is always a good idea.