Saturday, November 10, 2012

Book #315: Addis Berner Bear Forgets by Joel Stewart

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Addis Berner Bear arrived in the city on a snowy winter day. He quickly became lost in the big and confusing, loud and fast city. It was so loud and fast that Addis forgot everything he left behind and why he’d come to the city. He wandered the streets trying to remember why he had come, but no one could tell him because they had forgotten too. And then he was robbed of his only possession, a shiny trumpet in a black case. As he tells his tale of woe to his friend, a homeless woman in tattered clothes, she discovers the reason Addis came to the city: to play a concert in the park! And so he plays and “the music was big and confusing, loud and fast.” And Addis Berner Bear never forgot that day.

This endearing story focuses on the search for purpose and the desire to belong. Addis Berner Bear learns that it’s ok to get lost and it’s even better to find yourself again. The story is told in just a few words per page. The sparse nature of the text allows the reader to step inside of the isolation of being alone in a big city. The watercolor illustrations are loose and expressive. Stewart doesn’t shy away from the less appealing parts and citizens of the city. The rundown areas and homeless people are included in the bright illustrations, but they are portrayed sympathetically. The city itself is like a character in the story.

Use this book for a storytime about cities. Pair it with books that use a city as a major element of the plot, such as Blackout, Every Friday or The Curious Garden. Try pairing it with poems from Lee Bennett Hopkins’ City I Love.

Use this as part of a lost and found themed storytime. Try pairing it with other books that focus on lost characters or the loss of a favorite item, such as The Red Tree, I Want My Hat Back, The Hungry Thing or Seen Art?

Play a variety of “big and confusing, loud and fast” musical pieces played on the trumpet. Try Dizzy Gillespie’s Salt Peanuts, Louis Armstrong’s When the Saints Go Marching In, Wynton Marsalis’ version of The Flight of the Bumblebee or Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto 3rd Movement played by Tine Thing Helseth.


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