My kids both enjoy 'I Spy' books, so we have accumulated a lot of them. And they are fine and entertaining, to a point. Eventually I get tired of looking for the same red car or plastic cow, although my children do not seem to share this sentiment. So it was refreshing to read through a few new books by Benjamin Chaud and realize that, while not exactly true 'I Spy' adventures, they served much the same purpose in a much more interesting manner.
The Bear's Song and The Bear's Sea Escape both have the same plot, that of Papa bear chasing after Little Bear through a series of comical settings. But the plot is not terribly important in either of these books—it is the details that draw you in, and these books are full of them. If I had to choose one word to describe Chaud's illustrations, it would have to be "cluttered", but in a good way. Each page is bursting with things to look at.
There are people all over every page, engaged in all types of activities. The buildings are festooned with curlicues and minute ornamentation. The vehicles are fantastical, the natural world even more so. And hidden gems are everywhere! Sure, you are supposed to find Little Bear on each page. But I swear I keep seeing the four members of The Beatles pop up in the background, not to mention Bob Hope, Woody Guthrie and possibly Albert Einstein. I have no doubt there are many more that I am yet to pick up on, as well as many that I never will.
These books are BIG—over fourteen inches tall, presumably because all of the tiny details would be lost on a smaller page. So while The Bear's Song and The Bear's Sea Escape may not fit on your average bookshelf, chances are they will not be put away for too long anyway.
Titles: The Bear's Song and The Bear's Sea Escape
Author/Illustrator: Benjamin Chaud
Publisher: Chronicle Books (2013/2014)
Age group: Three and up
Best for kids who: are into I-Spy, mazes, and hide and seek
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.