Can Bears Ski?


Can Bears Ski? That’s what it seems Dad Bear asks at breakfast. Then again, that’s what it sounds like at the lunch table when everyone is laughing at something David Bear says. However it’s not very clear. Teacher Bear asks too, ‘Can Bears Ski’? What does it mean?

Could it mean a trip to the audiologist? Boy Bear will be asked to press the board every time he hears a sound beneath his head phones. Yet he has been feeling the vibrations of the day, from the staircase to the banister to Dad Bear awakening you. Then he been aware of the silence of the day, and later the silence all about him.

Tenderly, knowingly, poet Raymond Antrobus tells the story of working out whether bears can ski, through a gentle story of recognition, understanding and real-life experience. Polly Dunbar’s black framed, gently sequenced, pictures help us join Boy Bear in understanding what is happening to him, and thereafter, how he might be helped.

The poetry and pace and contrasts, from heavy and light, bright and silent, are so thoughtful and meaning laden. Bookwagon recommends Can Bears Ski? for classrooms, schools and home reading. This is a beautiful, necessary picture book.

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Can Bears Ski?

Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar

(Walker Books)– hardback

Can Bears Ski? Dad Bear asks in the morning after he’s had ‘a hard time waking me up in the morning’. ‘The ceiling cracks and the windows by the bed tremble‘. Thereafter, it’s time for school- ‘I’m up! I’m up!’ It seems everything about is loud, from colours to the shaking banisters and wobbling pictures.
Yet what happens when ‘Dad Bear is saying something’?  It seems like ‘Can Bears Ski’? Is it best to ‘shrug‘ because you’s ‘not sure [you] heard him right‘? Thereafter what about at school, with your friends, with Teacher Bear and then when David Bear talks and everyone is laughing? Could it mean that the au-di-ol-o-gist might help? It seems that she wants an indication for ‘every time’ a sound is heard.’
Raymond Antrobus’s story of noise and silence, absence, loss and confusion is recognisable. Our bear’s hearing loss is explained thoughtfully and accessibly in this delightful picture book. It seems that the poetic pacing and sequence of the storytelling describes the growing realisation. Thereafter the setting with the silence of snow contrasting with the noise of Bear’s daily routine is familiar. In addition, Polly Dunbar’s pictures, with their black framing and gentle characterisations help us understand and empathise.
Bookwagon loves this picture book because of its accessibility, information and thoughtful telling. Thereafter, we recommend Can Bears Ski? for reading and talking about at home and school.


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