BOOK REVIEW: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Snowglobe Gift Book by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

BOOK REVIEW: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Snowglobe Gift Book by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Walker Books Ltd
October 2017
Hardcover, $27.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Picture Books & Early Learning / Interactive & Novelty Books

10/10

In 2019 Michael Rosen’s version of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt will be 30 years old. This is a beloved children’s story that is adapted from a folk song. Rosen’s tale is one that has stood the test of time, those of us who enjoyed this colourful adventure as kids can enjoy it yet again by sharing it with a new generation of young readers. This is a perfect example of the gift that keeps on giving:

We’re going on a bear hunt.
We’re going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We’re not scared.

This story is joyful and whimsical, and it sees an intrepid family – including some young kids – proceeding on a hunt for an elusive bear. Along the way they encounter a deep cold river, some thick oozy mud, and a snowstorm, no less. They press on through all of this, bracing the different elements together:

Uh-uh! A snowstorm!
A swirling whirling snowstorm.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
Oh no!
We’ve got to go through it!

The text in this book has a lovely, sing-song-like rhythm. It’s simple but also incredibly effective at delivering the plot in a nice, spirited way. Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations are also wonderful and evocative. She uses black and white pencil pictures to show the family considering their next steps, as well as some bubbly watercolour paintings to support Rosen’s onomatopoeic alliteration when the family swish, swash and squelch their way through nature. That is, until they find precisely what they were looking for, a brown bear who causes them to back-track home at lightning speed:

One shiny wet nose!
Two big furry ears!
Two big goggly eyes!
IT’S A BEAR!!!!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a gorgeous children’s picture book packed with surprise, drama and fun. It has been repackaged several times over the years as a pop-up, a sticker activity book, and a bundle complete with a plush teddy bear, CD and buttons with sounds. The latest version features a sturdy 3D snow globe inserted into the cover that children can shake away for added enjoyment. This magical book provides the perfect chorus and soundtrack to a tale that’s always been smarter than your average bear…

BOOK REVIEW: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Snowglobe Gift Book by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

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