Here’s a new picture book series I adore: The Very Cranky Bear collection written and illustrated by Nick Bland, which includes the books “The Very Cranky Bear,” “The Very Itchy Bear” and “The Very Hungry Bear.” I received copies of the latter two from Scholastic during our annual bookish dinner last year, which prompted me to download the Cranky Bear app on my iPad.
Set in the Jingle Jangle Jungle, the books feature Bear and other woodland creatures.
In the first book, Bear is very cranky indeed, as he is disturbed from his sleep as Moose, Lion, Zebra and Sheep take shelter in his cave. Together, the four friends devise a way so Bear will be in a better mood.
And in the last book, Bear is still cranky because he’s very hungry and hasn’t caught any fish. It turns out Polar Bear has been catching all of the fish! Bear works out a deal with Polar Bear, but it doesn’t pan out quite the way he plans.
The stories are very short, told in melodic rhyme, and very, very funny:
Bear is just the right touch of cranky to be endearing (he reminds me a LOT of our family dog, Macky), and you can’t help but laugh at the situations he gets himself into.
And the illustrations are amazing. Some words are illustrated for emphasis, which prove to be very effective, as my five-year old niece kept pointing them out to me and repeating them. The style is nicely textured (from the hair on Bear to the ripples in the sea to the scales on the fish!), and those facial expressions! I love how many different cranky faces Bear can make. And a lot of the humor is to be found in the bear’s dynamic poses — mad props to Nick Bland, because I don’t think Bear is in the same position throughout the series, which is no small feat for an illustrator.
All books have corresponding apps, but because they’re $5.99 apiece, I only got Cranky Bear. For the price, though, it’s a quality app, with lots of interactivity, great scoring, PLUS, you can record your own audio! I’ve had a lot of fun with it with my little niece. :)
I’ve been foisting the books on my tutees, siblings, and friends, and the books are always a hit. I hope Nick Bland keeps them coming, because I’m definitely a fan. More, please!
All books, 5 out of 5 stars!
Review copies courtesy of Scholastic.