Bear Hug

  • Author/illustrator: Katharine McEwen
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press/Templar Books        Pub date: 2014
  • Intended for: Ages 3 to 7
  • Perfect for: Anyone who loves a beautiful picture book, collage artwork, and a sweet story.

Bear Hug cover

The cover art made me pick this book up at the library. Smiling bears, unique artwork, and a great typeface make for a gorgeous cover, no?

Once you go inside the book, things get even better. The artist has created a gorgeous forest world through collage and the textures make you want to touch each page and completely draw you in.

Bear Hug interior 1

The story follows a young bear as he searches for food before it’s time to hibernate. While he is successful in finding food, he also finds something else—a companion bear! They both hibernate, and once spring arrives, they emerge from their cave…but now with a cub in tow.

The story is informative, sweet, and told with a minimum number of words. But each word is just right and the book would serve well not only as a storytime book, but also as a bedtime story. It’s reassuring and adventurous at the same time. A sure hit for kids!

Bear Hug interior 2

Bear Hug interior 3

Look at those beautiful streamer songs coming from the birds' mouths! Such a pretty detail.

Look at those beautiful streamer songs coming from the birds’ mouths! Such a pretty detail.

Another thing I love about the artwork is how the author/illustrator makes the changes in the seasons apparent by the colors on the page. While there is what I think of as a neutral, grainy tone to each page, each season is represented by the addition of vibrant colors. Winter has deep turquoise blues, spring has reds and yellows and greens, while fall brings more earthy brown tones. Oh, it’s just so pretty to look at! I hope you get a chance to see this beautiful book. It’s lovely from cover to cover.

Bear Hug interior 5

Highly recommended.

A Trio of Recommendations

While I may have been away from blogging for a while, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading! So far 2015 has been filled with some wonderful reads and here’s a short sampling of books that I’d recommend:

My Heart is Laughing 

  • Author: Rose Lagercrantz
  • Illustrator: Eva Erikkson
  • Publisher: Gecko Press       Pub date: 2014
  • Intended for: Ages 6 to 8

My Heart is Laughing cover

This early chapter book is pure delight. The writing is beautiful and touching, and the story is perfect for the age range. Especially good for children who may have a friend that has moved away.


Geek Girl

  • Author: Holly Smale
  • Publisher: HarperCollins                         Pub date: 2015
  • Intended for: Ages 13 to 17

Geek Girl cover

The first in a series that has been a bestseller in the United Kingdom, this book is very much fluff. But it’s witty, humorous fluff with characters you actually care about.


Roller Girl

  • Author/Illustrator: Victoria Jamieson
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers        Pub date: 2015
  • Intended for: Ages 9 to 12Roller Girl cover

A middle grade novel with real punch! The story is universal while also being unique, and the illustrations are accessible to readers, whether they are new to graphic novels or not. A great story for those dealing with friendship growing pains as interests begin to differ.

How to Die of Embarrassment Every Day

  • Author: Ann Hodgman
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company                      Pub date: 2011
  • Intended for: Ages 8 to 12
  • Perfect for: Anyone looking for a smart, funny memoir about childhood.

How to Die of Embarrassment Every Day

My only reading goal for the year is to read more non-fiction. I really enjoy a good true story, insightful advice, a new way to look at things, or information on a topic I don’t know much about. But I find that if I don’t seek non-fiction books out, they don’t end up on my reading list. So when I was at the library last week, noticed that I had Ann Hodgman’s book on my list, and saw that it was a memoir, I decided to pick it up.

I’ve had this book on my To Read list for about a year and I don’t remember exactly where I heard about it, but I’m glad I found out about it somehow because the book was a fabulous surprise.

The book covers Hodgman’s life from early childhood up until the end of sixth grade. You wouldn’t think that that short period of time would warrant a memoir, but the author has plenty of silly and outlandish experiences and thoughts, so the pages are absolutely filled up with adventures that are so funny and so well-written that you can’t help but be happy that this book was published.

It’s an endearing look at her early life, friends, family, and the events that helped shape who she is today. And what makes it so readable—which is important in a memoir about a person you probably don’t know much (or anything) about—is her voice. She’s blunt and self-deprecating and she’s able to see the hilarity in everyday situations and she’s able to laugh at herself and the situations she got herself into.

And why would young readers want to pick up such a book? Because it lets them know that they’re not alone in the world in doing some silly, stupid, ridiculous, embarrassing things (sometimes on a daily basis). Hodgman gives some great perspective in that you can do lots of stupid stuff, wear some non-so-awesome things, and say stuff you probably shouldn’t, and yet, you’ll still be okay and you’ll grow up and be perfectly fine. What’s extra nice for young readers are the lists she includes at the end of the book: “A Few Things Grown-ups Say That Are (I’m Sorry) True” (such as “Be Nice to Everyone”) and “A Few Things Grown-ups Say That Aren’t True” (such as “Kids Have It So Easy Compared with Adults”).

Her straightforward voice will grab you, her stories will make you laugh, and her takeaways will make you smile and stay with you.

I’m so, so glad I got around to reading this book and I recommend it very highly.

Does anyone have recommendations for a good memoir—either children’s or adult?