Baby Bear Counts One

Numbers are all fun and games in “Baby Bear Counts One,” a colorful new picture book by Ashley Wolff chosen by Washington School District parent educators as the Baby Buzz Pick for September.

Each month the group selects a book for children birth to age 5. The parent educators then purchase additional copies of each month’s Baby Buzz Pick to use in their visits with parents and their children.

The following review was written by area literacy advocate Nancy Nagel.

“Winter is coming and the woodland creatures are all making preparations in this delightful counting book. As they roam through the forest, Baby Bear and his mother encounter their forest friends gathering and storing food, building dens, filling their bellies, and flying south—all anticipating the coming winter.

“The story follows a simple pattern. Baby Bear hears or feels something, asks Mama Bear what is going on and she responds by naming the animals, then telling what they are doing. ‘Those are the bees, storing up honey before winter comes...’ Those are the deer and the crows, filling up on sweet corn before winter comes."

“Baby Bear counts each group of animals starting with one woodpecker hunting beetles, and continuing through nine geese flying south. Finally a snowflake lands on Baby Bear's tongue and Mama Bear explains, ‘Those are the snowflakes—filling the sky now that winter has come—Baby Bear counts ten.’ The story is complete as Mama and Baby curl together cozy inside the den. Outside the snowflakes keep falling—‘too many to count.’

“Author/illustrator Ashley Wolff created the pictures by printing linoleum blocks in black ink, printing them on Arches Cover paper. She then hand-colored them with watercolor paints. Richly hued browns, red and greens contrast sharply with Mama and Baby Bear's solid black fur. The main characters are surrounded on each page-spread by the featured numbers of various wildlife.

“Children of all ages will enjoy this book. Toddlers learning to talk will enjoy hearing and trying to make silly sounds with the animals like ‘whap, whap, crunch, crunch, and gobble, gobble.’

“Two- and 3-year-olds learning to count will enjoy finding each set of animals and enumerating them. They also will enjoy completing the sentence with the repetitive phrase, ‘before winter comes.’

“Older children will like identifying the animals and talking about their actions in preparation for winter. This book also would provide an opportunity to talk about the changing seasons.

“Take a walk with your child and look for signs of our animal friends getting ready for winter. Gather acorns, leaves, twigs, seedpods and feathers from your walk. Glue them onto sturdy paper to make a fall nature Collage.”

Other Parent Educator favorites this month are “You were the First,” by Patricia MacLachlan, “How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow,” by Wendell Minor, “Crankenstein,” by Samantha Berger, “Ten Orange Pumpkins—a Counting Book,” by Stephen Savage and “Click, Clack Boo! A Tricky Treat,” by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.