Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge, and illustrated by Lisa Cinar is a beautiful picture book. It features gorgeous watercolor pictures that depict Canadian forest creatures that all kids will be familiar with: deer, beaver, fox, hare and squirrels just to name a few. Never have I seen our chilly winter so bright and cheerful! I loved the fact that it brought to life a season that many see as boring or dull; the main character ‘Bear’ has made preparing for hibernation a joyous and unique occasion.

The basic premise of the story is that Bear sometimes feels lonely, so he takes the initiative to have a big party to make new friends before he hides away for the winter. He’s very shy, so it’s difficult for him to get up the courage to host a party, but he does anyway, and bakes all his favourite treats to welcome his guests. At first he’s worried that no one will show up, but then of course everyone does and they all have a grand time eating cookies, roasted nuts, and fruit tarts. When Bear finally goes to bed for the winter, he falls asleep contentedly, knowing he will wake up to a forest full of friends. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? There’s even a cookie recipe at the back of the book that’s fairly easy, so you can do it with your kids. I love that kind of thoughtful addition to a book, it extends the 10 minutes of reading a book into a second fun activity, which every parent can appreciate.

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My only problem with this book is the font-it gets lost on the pages because it’s so small. The pictures are bright, colourful and take up most of the page, but the words get lost because they aren’t even bolded (why aren’t they bolded-yeesh, a quick work over with Microsoft Word would have done the trick). Difficult to read words is not acceptable in any kind of book, but it’s practically a mortal sin for children’s books. Why do we want to give them anymore excuses to not read the words? If anything, the text should be (one) of the most prominent things on the page, because we want them to actually READ it, not just look at the pictures.

Ok, so other than the complaint above, I really liked this book. And if you have a kid who really doesn’t like going outside in the cold, this is a story that might help change their mind because it makes winter look so bright and cozy. Yah Canada!

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