Every once and awhile you stumble upon a book that seems to magically connect with a particular student in a way that you could not predict. A friend had given me a massive box of hand-me-down books, and inside I found the wordless book, Wonder Bear. It was not a book I was familiar with, but since I’ve had such success with wordless picture books I decided to try it with Joey. I thought it would give us many opportunities to talk and describe the pictures, but I had no idea it would engage Joey as much as it did.
The pictures tell the story of a boy and girl planting a garden – and while the girl plants watermelon seeds, the boy plants hat seeds. They go to sleep in the garden and wake up to find that the hat seeds have grown a stalk of beautiful flowers, and out of the flowers emerges a bear with a magic hat. The bear takes the children on a series of adventures, pulling different types of animal and magic from his hat.
Joey loved this book, more than I expected him to.
The silly monkeys, the wonder inside the hat, the explosion of flowers… all of it seemed to fill Joey with wonder. More than anything, he loved when the bear turns leaves into sea creatures who then take the children, bear, and monkeys on a journey through the sky.
In fact, Joey loves this part so much that he cries when I turn the page. He used to cry when he was younger and a book ended but I have not seen that in while. I was surprised to see his face pull into his forlorn “don’t end it yet” look. With prompting, he began to ask for me to turn back to the last page instead of crying that I’d turned the page. We spent quite a while in the pattern of me turning the page, him asking to go back, me turning back to this magical page and the two of us talking about it for a bit. Then me – finally thinking he was ready to move on – turning the page again to try to move the story onward. Only to repeat the use of the back request.
This book pulled Joey into it so much that I heard more vocalizations from him than usually. He orally labeled what was going on in many of the pictures – with up, go, the /m/ for monkeys, no, and other vocalizations. His whole body leaned into the book, his eyes wide as it was clear he was organizing himself to talk.
I am so glad I happened to stumble upon this book. I will be adding it into my wordless picture book collection and highly recommend that you do as well.