Perfect Picture Book Friday – Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

This is the third in my series reviewing books for babies and very young children. This book was given to me as a baby shower gift, and I love passing it along.

Title: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Author/Illustrator: Bill Martin, Jr./Eric Carle

Publisher: Henry Holt

Year: 1967 (first version), 1983; 1996 (board book edition)

Genre: Board book/picture book

Ages: Infant-5

Themes: Animals; colors

Opening: Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me.

Red bird, red bird, what do you see? I see a yellow duck looking at me.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck– all parade across the pages of this delightful book. Children will immediately respond to Eric Carle’s flat, boldly colored collages. Combined with Bill Martin’s singsong text, they create unforgettable images of these endearing animals.

What makes it great: The lyrical text and signature collage illustrations in vivid, arresting colors by Eric Carle have clearly been delighting children for decades.

What readers notice: The high contrast animals in vivid colors on white backgrounds are perfect for even the smallest babies to be able to see. Both my kids loved this book from infancy, and I remember my daughter at 6 or 7 months would kick vigorously when we got to the page with the purple cat. She still loves purple!

What a writer notices: The simplicity of the rhyming and repetitive text makes it easy for kids to follow along, enjoy, and remember. And even in a story this simple, there’s a “twist” at the end, when after listing a bear, bird, duck, horse, frog, cat, dog, sheep, and goldfish, a page turn reveals a teacher, and then a group of children.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

With toddlers who know the story you can do a simple prediction activity by letting them say what will appear on the next page. And you can always get a laugh by saying the wrong animal name (e.g. say “pink bunny rabbit” when the page actually shows the green frog).

Activity Guide from the publisher

Eric Carle on Mr. Rogers

In a combination that’s, in my mind, even better than chocolate and peanut butter, this episode of Mr. Rogers shows a visit to Eric Carle’s studio where he demonstrates how he makes his illustrations, and then reads From Head to Toe.

A Pinterest board with lots of links to Brown Bear activities

16 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

  1. Tina Cho says:

    Fun! I love Eric Carle books and used this in the classroom for many years. Students can even make their own books using Carle’s repetitive pattern. I wish I could visit his pb museum!

    • Carrie Finison says:

      Great idea, Tina.

      I went to the museum for the first time last year. It is an amazing place. And it just so happened that Eric Carle was there the day we went, signing books. We had limited time so I didn’t want to wait in the line, but it was cool to see him in person. We went to an exhibit and then checked out the library (FILLED with picture books) and the art studio. I’d really like to go back there with kids sometime soon.

    • Carrie Finison says:

      The museum is in western Massachusetts (Amherst) about 1.5 hours from me. They have special exhibits on picture book illustration, a picture book library, a gorgeous art studio with crafts for kids, and a gift shop. I want to move there.

  2. viviankirkfield says:

    One of the best books for very little ones! Thanks for adding it to PPBF, Carrie…I really enjoy Eric Carle books…I think this is one of the most popular baby shower gifts…as you found out. 🙂

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