written by Brenda Z. Guiberson; illustrated by Ed Young
(Henry Holt Kids) 2010
Source: May Memorial Library
Moon bears are black bears that live in the mountains and valleys of Southeast Asia. Moon Bear follows a question and answer format to show us a year in the life of one female moon bear. The narrative starts with the moon bear waking up from a winter of hibernation.
"Who blinks in the sunlight that peeks through the Himalayas?"
"Sleepy moon bear, waking up from a long winter snooze."
We follow the bear as she searches for food through each successive season and interacts with other animals. The book ends with the female bear emerging from hibernation in a tree hollow, but she is not by herself!
Moon bears are an endangered species that is struggling to survive in Asia. Be sure to read the author's note at the end to learn more about this fascinating animal. With a little vocabulary front loading (Himalaya, rhododendron), first graders could read this book on their own. Moon Bear would be an exceptional choice as a mentor text to teach using vivid verbs in writing.
Ed Young's collage artwork is amazing as usual. The cut paper illustrations are beautiful. I especially like the scene with the moon bear facing a deer in the rhododendron forest. Moon Bear is already getting plenty of mentions as a contender for the 2011 Caldecott Medal.
Here is the link to the Animals Asia Foundation that is working to save the moon bears. Below is a video of a moon bear battling a sack.
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