Review Blog

Mar 22 2012

Don't wake Mr Bear! by Jill Newton

cover image

Egmont, 2011. ISBN 9781405249669.
The first golden oak leaf floating to the ground was the signal for the autumn orchestra to begin the lullaby of the forest. Dormouse played his triangle, the squirrels their flutes, the wood pigs tapped their xylophones and the rabbits strummed their harps. It was perfect music to send Mr Dormouse off for his long winter sleep. And, as he left, he warned them not to wake Mr Bear. Unfortunately, no one told the wolves and when they crashed into a tree making all sorts of noise and ready to party, the inevitable happens.
But not only is Mr Bear woken, so is Dormouse and he has a very serious message about the importance of the rhythms of nature and the need for things to sleep.
With this summer being what it is, particularly on the East coast, the weather is a common conversation and autumn will soon be upon us. Thus, this is a delightful book to introduce the changing of the seasons, and although the creatures are not Australian, it's an ideal time to widen the children's horizons and have them investigate why animals hibernate, why some species lose their leaves and rather than winter being a time of little life, it is, in fact a time of rest and renewal. It's a bit like night time for people, only longer.
This book has bright colourful illustrations that are very appealing and there are lots of opportunities for listeners to join in using their body orchestra. How can you make the sound of the breeze without a flute? How can you make the sound of the nuts falling without an xylophone? And having talked about the different rhythms from the legato of the flute to the staccato of the xylophone, the children could then experiment and classify the instruments accordingly. A music lesson in the library? Why not? And all part of the information literacy process as they learn to hypothesise, group like with like, and present their findings.
Barbara Braxton

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