Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

February 22, 2019
Subheader: 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear till the day I die.

Review: 

Starting off, the title is a mouthful. People always say this book is for reading aloud, preferably in a group of children, but the repetition pounds into my head like a jackhammer even when I read it silently. This book drove me so crazy that after reading it a few times to my eldest son when he was a toddler, I hid it so he wouldn't see it to request it. This is like the "Baby Shark" of previous generations. Maybe it's cute once, but it will not get out of your head.

There is no plot. It's literally just a repetition of the same phrase, followed by a different-colored animal each time (with a slight variation at the end). Most of the animals are natural colors, except for the strange inclusion of a blue horse and a purple cat. Eric Carle's trademark blocky, brush-stroke-filled shapes are on every page. I mean, I like his color choices, but I'm not a big fan. Especially with so many of the animals being contorted into awkward-looking positions.

Carle didn't actually write this one, which is authored by the extremely prolific Bill Martin Jr., also famous for "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom", "Knots on a Counting Rope", and some variations on the "Brown Bear" formula: "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?", "Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?", and "Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?" I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

But reading this book too many times breaks my mind.

Message: 

Animals can be bizarre colors.

Illustrator
Publication Year
  • 1967
Age Range
Age Range: 
2-5
Number of Pages
Number of Pages: 
24
Number of Words on Typical Page
Number of Words: 
8

Comments

Troll
Books like this are meant to

Books like this are meant to stimulate language development in children, they watch you move your mouth and make connections between the words and pictures on a very basic level, they're repetitive for a reason. They don't really need a plot because they're intended for ages that don't understand the concept of plots or even have the attention span for them. They aren't about being stimulating or amusing for you.

Duty

If the book is neither stimulating nor amusing to me, then I find no reason to read it. Children are going to have stimulated language development even if I read them my grocery list, so I might as well read them something good.