In short rhyming text, a mother bear and her cubs experience a year of changing seasons until it's time to hibernate.
In winter, a mother bear and her two cubs cuddle, tucked in broad snow under the northern lights. In spring, the cubs grow among flowers and climb tall trees. Summer is speckled with bees and bright red berries as the cubs catch fish and dig roots in preparation for the fall, and finally the cubs, now almost grown, settle down for winter in "Earth's safe arms." While the story explores seasons through the experiences of these three particular bears, some rhymes generalize to fit the rhythm ("Coats grow thick, / bodies strong. / Soon bears will doze / all winter long"), risking readers’ detachment from the bears in question. Often singsong, the text invites a slow reading, appropriate for preparation for hibernation. Though Duval's text acts as a lullaby as much as a recitation of ursine activities, Turley's vivid illustrations could tell the story wordlessly. The greenish glow of the northern lights or autumn mountains awash in gold lend atmosphere the text cannot, and the close perspective—from the bears' shaggy fur to the white breath of the wolf who "wails / a lullaby"—brings the scenes to life.
A slow, soft read-aloud, good for bedtime or when Bear Snores On is too rowdy. (Picture book. 3-6)