Blackstone’s Bear and pals introduce children to a typical school day.
Adorable bears, all of different hues and accessorized for differentiation, wave goodbye to their grown-ups and start their day: “The school bell rings and the bears go inside. / They hang up their coats and their school bags with pride.” Music and math are the first subjects the bears tackle, then they have a snack: some sort of orange drink and a “bun”—what appear to be frosted doughnuts with cherries on top. Literacy and lunchtime are next, followed by naps and recess. A craft project and storytime round out the day before dismissal. Blackstone’s rhymes are sometimes rough—sums/bun, prepared/bears, rest/stretch, follow/tomorrow—which is a shame in a book that emphasizes emergent-literacy skills, but the scansion is spot-on. The final spread asks readers to show the “new bear” around on a map of the school drawn from above. The bears’ school unrealistically comprises five rooms: a single classroom, a hall for meals, a room for naps, and two rooms the bears don’t visit—a bathroom and an office. Harter’s paint, pen-and-ink, and crayon illustrations feature bright colors and solid backgrounds so readers can focus on what the bears are doing at school, though their facial expressions are rather one-note.
There are better offerings on the back-to-school shelf for easing those new to school into the routine; skip this one. (Picture book. 2-5)