September 15, 2016

Bear's Winter Party

by Deborah Hodge
Illustrated by Lisa Cinar
Groundwood Books
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
September 2016

Bear has a sweet life of living in the forest on the side of a mountain.  He has trees, berries, water and fresh mountain air.  But he’s a little lonely. He is a bear, after all, and Deer, Beaver, Chickadee, Squirrel, Hare and Fox all run away when he’s around. Worse yet, he hears them talking about him and what made him so feared. With winter coming and his long hibernation sleep, he decides to take action, inviting the other members of his forest community to his Winter Party, depositing written invitations where they might find them.

Bear cleans and decorates and cooks and prepares for his guests.  Just when he thinks no one is coming, he sees them all peeking out from behind trees. It’s the brave Chickadee who scouts out the scene inside and encourages the rest to come forward.  Though still a little apprehensive being in bear’s lair, the animals are polite and they begin to enjoy themselves, first with the delicious food and drink, and then with a sing-along and dancing. Finally, Bear’s new friends depart, each with a parting gift, and he can rest knowing that he'll be able to welcome the spring with a forest full of friends.

From Bear's Winter Party
by Deborah Hodge, illus. by Lisa Cinar
Deborah Hodge, best known for her countless non-fiction books, has written a heart-warming story perfect for the onset of cold weather.  It’s a story of friendship and diversity and acceptance and risk-taking.  And, though the youngest may wonder why all the animals don’t just get along from the onset –and we as adults wonder this all the time about our own species–Bear’s Winter Party will open doors for discussion and repeated story-telling. Lisa Cinar, whose art portfolio is as varied as her lush illustrations for Bear’s Winter Party, uses watercolours to create colourfully textured animals and forest landscapes, as well as a finely-furnished home for Bear.  But it’s the style of Lisa Cinar’s watercolours that creates such movement and richness in her illustrations in which the characters are always ample and bold, not a shrinking violet amongst the group. By pairing Lisa Cinar’s art with Deborah Hodge’s story, Bear’s Winter Party becomes a party in itself, deep in colour and friendship.

From Bear's Winter Party 
by Deborah Hodge, illus. by Lisa Cinar
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Deborah Hodge is coming to the Eden Mills Writers' Festival this Sunday.  Come and meet her and get your copy of Bear's Winter Party signed, ready for reading when it's time to hibernate (or party with friends).

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