More Information.
More details.Hide details.

Curriculum Materials Center

  • Print
  • 2009 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Honor Books

    A Visitor for Bear written by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, and published by Candlewick Press, 2008.

    Visitor for BearBear is very content living alone in his cottage in the woods. But one morning, as he sets out to make his breakfast for one, a “small and gray and bright-eyed” visitor appears. After answering the “tap, tap, tapping” at his door, Bear looks down at the mouse and points to the sign on his door: “No Visitors Allowed.” With a happy grin back on his face, Bear resumes his duties, only to encounter more surprise visits. The persistent small furry mouse is found repeatedly throughout the house until Bear puts forth a plan to lock everything up to keep the mouse out. As readers would expect, the mouse reappears, causing Bear to give in to the small creature’s plea. The two characters settle in front of the fire and Bear soon realizes that no one has ever been so attentive to his jokes and tricks. When the mouse starts to obey the original command of “no visitors allowed,” Bear quickly intervenes. After ripping off the sign that once hung on his door, Bear tells the mouse, “ ‘That’s for salesmen. Not for friends.’ ”

    When hearing this book read aloud, many early elementary students enjoyed the numerous reappearances of the mouse. Throughout the story, students laughed, smiled, pointed, repeated phrases, and showed intent interest. Preschool children noticed the large font on the pages where Bear shouted at the mouse to leave his home, and they enjoyed repeating the words. The soft illustrations created with watercolor, ink, and gouache perfectly complement the text. One reader thought the expressions on Bear’s face were “priceless.” Over all, children caught on to the message of friendship and being kind to one another. A first grade teacher commented on the terrific use of language within the conversations between the bear and mouse, and found the story to be very appropriate for the younger age group.

    Author Bonny Becker said the idea for A Visitor for Bear just “popped into” her head one day, which is fitting to the character of the mouse in the story. More “Bear and Mouse” stories are in the making. Bonny lives in Seattle, WA.

    Illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton lives in Peterborough, Ontario, where she works in an old, tall, yellow brick house overlooking the river. She said, “Bear and the mouse are two of the funniest characters I’ve met in a long time.” (Ashley Roemer)

    The Sandman written by Ralph Fletcher, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey, and published by Henry Holt and Company, 2008.

    The SandmanAfter trying the common remedies of counting stars and drinking warm milk, Tor cannot fall asleep. The next day, as the tiny man ventures through the woods, he comes upon a sparkling green dragon scale. Noticing that one edge is jagged, Tor brings the scale into his shop to file. As the small sand-like shavings blow throughout his workshop, Tor suddenly falls asleep. After a long rest with wonderful dreams, Tor realizes the value in the surprise he found and grinds up the entire dragon scale. Riding in his mouse-drawn carriage, Tor journeys throughout the night to sprinkle the special sand over children with restless eyes. With the many children needing help to fall asleep, Tor keeps very busy, eventually getting the nickname “The Sandman.” But the sand from the dragon scale does not last forever, forcing the Sandman to set out on a difficult journey to capture another scale. With success, the Sandman is able to continue with his bedtime deed. And because “…dragons live forever, there will never be a shortage of scales.”

    Detailed and rich acrylic illustrations support this mystical, bedtime story. Children from the ages of two to nine enjoyed searching the pictures to find unique details, such as a postage stamp hanging on the wall of Tor’s bedroom. Children also liked the dragon, specifically the large, two-page spread of the fire-breathing creature. The mouse caught the attention of many listeners, and many young children thought it was funny that Tor was pulled around by such a small creature. Adult readers enjoyed the story just as much, specifically this unique version of how the Sandman does his work.

    Author Ralph Fletcher lives with his family in Lee, New Hampshire.

    Illustrator Richard Cowdrey got ideas for The Sandman by reviewing the Hildebrandt Brothers’ version of The Hobbit. Richard lives in Gambier, Ohio. (Ashley Roemer)