March 6, 2012

Little Polar Bear: Finger Puppet Book

Little Polar Bear: Finger Puppet Book
By Image Books Factory; illus. by Klaartje van der Put
No Illustrator Site
0-2 Chronicle Books 12 pp.
978-0811869744 Board $6.99

There is an impressive amount of content in this small, simply illustrated package. The authors  combine an interactive story, complete with narrative arc, (a baby polar bear can't find the other bears until he realizes something important), with a handful of polar bear facts. The result not only works, it is completely engaging. Even the polar bear's protruding puppet head doesn't distract from the illustrations or the text. In fact, it gives young readers (like, in the interest of full disclosure, my seven month old daughter) something to chew on while the pages turn and the story is read.

Everything about Little Polar Bear is designed for the exceptionally young. The pages are fat and sturdy, even by board book standards, while the book itself is small - roughly four inches square - making it easy for babies to manipulate the pages. Van der Put's illustrations keep the action clear without extraneous detail, while making it seem natural that the Little Polar Bear sits in same spot for the whole book (he has too - his puppet head is affixed to the back so he can't wander about). The rhyming text is engaging ("Polar Bear sees lots of snow. Where did the other polar bears go?") and simple enough to recognize after just a few reads, making the story easy to anticipate and follow phonetically, even for the pre-verbal. The ending is playful and satisfying, with another polar bear tossing a snowball to Little Polar bear, as if to say "Silly bear, don't you know? Polar bears are white as snow!" The end result is a board book with a pleasing rhyming text and illustrations that combines polar bear facts with narrative progression and makes my daughter smile the second I pull it out.

(The Little Polar Bear is part of a finger puppet series that also includes The Little Mouse, The Little Lion, The Little Dino, and The Little Bat among others).

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