Parents and children will know they have found a tale destined to become a classic as soon as they open the cover and find endpapers featuring a sepia-toned, full-spread illustration of a hillside. This has been Timmy Bear’s playground throughout the day and as he gets into bed that night, he and his mother play “Tell Me the Day Backwards.” With occasional prompts from Mama Bear, Timmy is able to recount his activities from watching the sunset, to a swim in the river where he saw a scary fish, to being chased by bees – after eating a delicious snack of honey, of course – and many other small adventures since morning. In an invitation to very early readers, the text appears in a large typeface while warm sepia and watercolor illustrations provide a clear depiction of all of the day’s exploits. Timmy remembers all the way back to being woken up after his deep sleep all through winter. Tonight, his mother tells him, “We’ll sleep for just one night.” And with that, even though Timmy has had some frightening moments in his day, youngsters are certain that he is off to a cozy, pleasant-dreams sleep.
Children will ask for this story again and again and parents will not mind repeated readings. But in this case, there is an alternative: Turn to the endpapers and ask children, using the scene as a map, to find the location of each of Timmy’s adventures. See if they can repeat Timmy’s activities as Timmy outlined them and then in the order in which they happened. From there, it is a natural segue to discussing the events of your children’s day, thus starting your own reassuring night-time ritual.
Reviewed by JMcD
THEMES: ANIMALS. BEARS. BEHAVIOR. CREATIVE DRAMA. MOTHERS. PARENT AND CHILD.
Candlewick Press, 2011
Suggested Ages: 4-8