4 out of 4 stars
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In How Steven the Bear Invented S’mores, the Bear Bunch and some friends set off on their first-ever, group camping trip. This children’s tale by Scott Hall takes young readers on an overnight hiking excursion into a wooded wilderness. The characters spot birds with binoculars, go fishing with poles, and they delight in gathering firewood, picking blueberries, and reposing under the stars in sleeping bags. Illustrated by Madison Brake, whimsically delightful, full-page depictions accompany each bit of spoken dialogue and descriptive rhetoric. The scenes come to life through a blend of vivid colors and succinct snippets of easy-to-read text. All of the included facial expressions convey identifiable emotions and moods as the story progresses.
All of the named characters are various species of woodland animals that exhibit anthropomorphic qualities. They walk around on their hind legs, wear bandanas and backpacks, carry flags and flashlights, and communicate through humanistic conversations. They even use their imaginations to spot discernible shapes in the clouds. Once the story concludes, there is a bonus “FACTS” section. It provides some handy details about bears, foxes, rabbits, wolves, raccoons, bobcats, bluebirds, and gray jays and helps readers identify their individual footprints and tracks.
I enjoyed the thoughtful inclusion of responsible considerations like safety whistles, inventory preparation, hydration requirements, and the careful conscientiousness needed when constructing fire pits. The author places an appreciated emphasis upon honoring the “buddy system,” explaining how friendship can help ensure safety in unfamiliar locations. Some pages exhibit call-to-action commands, encouraging young readers to “find the bluebird” or “count the acorns” depicted.
At a length of 28 pages, this book can be easily read aloud in a short time frame. The vocabulary is straightforward, and some of the prose exhibits a rhyming quality. I noticed an equal gender distribution among the named characters, and there was also a pair of bears that acted as grandparents to Steven; this provided an additional, family bond component. In regards to the editing quality, I only came across a handful of minor grammatical and typographical errors in the hardcover edition. This is the only perceived area that could use subtle improvement. There was nothing I disliked about this cute story of exploration and teamwork.
I feel this book would be appropriate for ages 4 and up. This title effectively provides life lessons for little ones, especially kids who might be interested in joining a Cub Scouts group. Young readers will laugh at mentions of “smelly socks” and salivate at the thought of gooey marshmallows and melted chocolate bars. I gladly award this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. Never be afraid to try new things! You might discover an unconventional campfire treat in the process.
How Steven the Bear Invented S'mores
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