Subscribe to The Horn Book

Baby Bear Sees Blue

Baby Bear Sees BlueWell, it’s getting down to the wire here. It won’t be long before Lolly and I put together the ballot for you to vote on. In the meantime, I am going to briefly talk about a few books that are still on my personal stack. I need to make up time if I am going to squeeeeeeeze them in before the ballot comes out.

I am not sure why I didn’t talk about Baby Bear Sees Blue before now. It’s a lovely book about a little bear discovering the world through the questions she asks her steady, loving mother. Wolff is a prolific illustrator and writer and there seems to be no artistic technique she has not employed. This time she uses linoleum block printing which is later watercolored. She wrings every bit of color out of her watercolor too! The linoleum blocks are chockablock full of surprises and rewards for the young reader: little birds and other animals, bright fruit. The title page alone is filled with visual foreshadowing of most of the colors that will follow. It’s subtle what she does and I love it.

Like other Caldecott winners that respect the intelligence of very young readers (I am thinking of Kevin Henkes in particular here), Wolff builds a world slowly and the world is exciting, yet familiar and comforting to the young reader. I especially appreciate the use of the color black, which is the warm and safe cave…and the Mama Bear herself. If only every little person had a Mama Bear like this one!

Is there enough here for the committee?


Robin Smith About Robin Smith

Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee. She is a reviewer for Kirkus and The Horn Book Magazine and has served on multiple award committees.



  1. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    My second graders discussed this today–one question they asked was, “Why are the end pages red? Shouldn’t they be blue?”
    My students notice things that fly right by me.

  2. What a wonderful review, Robin. Thanks! Please tell your students that the endpaper color–I think of it as a dark pink-exactly matches the checkermallow blossoms on the jacket.
    But, even more important to me–since pink is NOT one of the colors in the rainbow spectrum, and I LOVE pink, it gave me a chance to put it in the book!

  3. Robin Smith Robin Smith says:

    Well. my second graders are all abuzz! A LETTER FROM AN ILLUSTATOR!
    We looked again and it was great for them to see that the endpages were NOT red, but dark pink. They removed the jacket and slid it along the endpapers to see which plant was actually a checkermallow.

    Mary said, “Tell her we like pink too!”

    One of the repeated refrains when we look at picture books it, “Everything is a choice.” And now we know what the choice was.

  4. Dear Mrs. Smith and your 2nd Graders,

    Check out the flowers closest to the spine, 4 petals, dark pink–right behind baby bear, and the one right under my name. Those are a wildflower called Checkermallow that grows in California, and maybe where you are too.
    The artwork on the cover looks a little yellow to me–sometimes the printing isn’t quite perfect. So some get closer to orange because when you add a little yellow to pink and you get a coral color.
    Thanks for your sharp eyes!


Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind