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Children’s Book Review: Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?

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Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Eric Carle

Panda Bear

Thirty-five years after their first groundbreaking collaboration, the creators of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? reunited to address the important topic of animal conservation. A Bald Eagle soars, a Spider Monkey swings, a Macaroni Penguin struts, and a Red Wolf sneaks through Bill Martin Jr’s rhythmic text and Eric Carle’s vibrant images, and all are watched over by our best hope for the future–a dreaming child.

Big books are ideal for use with a large group–they are oversized at 14-1/2 x 18 inches. A perfect way to enjoy Holt favorites with many children at once!

After trying a board book and a Kindle edition for the first two of these, I discovered our local library had this one in the oversized format and brought it home for our toddler. The blurb up there about the benefits of the bigger book is spot on. But it also encourages memorization and identification when reading one on one.

Eric Carle’s diaphanous tissue collages are evocative enough that our toddler learned bald eagle from two or three reads well enough to effortlessly recognize another quite different representational depiction on the wall at the doctor’s office.

Panda Bear Bald Eagle

“Look! That’s a bald eagle, Mama!”

It lacks the easy flow of Brown Bear and the tightness and cohesion of Polar Bear, but it introduces endangered species from around the globe. This is cool for a couple reasons. First, it goes well beyond the standard cat/dog/bear/sheep/etc that populate the majority of children’s books, giving youngsters a glimpse of the broader world. And it provides some early public relations for these disappearing animals.

I will say that for every delightful giggle we get from animals like the macaroni penguin, we occasionally get some negative feedback about sharper toothed animals like the red wolf. But, like I said, Carle’s art is great. Predators can be scary.

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