P. Bear’s New Year’s Party by Paul Owen Lewis is lauded by elementary school teachers as one of the best educational resources for teaching kids how to count and tell time. Available as a hardcover, a board book, and in paperback, this 32-page book can grow with your child. It’s perfect for a large age range, but tailored to 3-7 year olds. The elegant illustrations rely solely on black, white, and red for a vivid, timeless visual portrayal of the fictional tale that finds a dashing polar bear hosting a black-tie affair for New Year’s Eve. With every strike of the clock leading up to midnight, a large number of animals corresponding to the clock face shown on each page arrive at Mr. P. Bear’s door.
The author does several things exceptionally well with this book. First, he spells out the numbers, so kids learn to recognize them outside of numerals. Next, he introduces young readers to exotic animals. (Orcas, pandas, and penguins are among the unusual animals invited to this polar bear’s party!) Third, every group of animals corresponds to the number on the clock face, helping kids make a connection between counting and time. Last, the strategic use of only three colors throughout the book brilliantly brings the pages acutely to life, with the color red highlighting the most important nuances. In addition, P. Bear’s New Year’s Party also expands children’s vocabulary, introducing new collective nouns like flock, herd, bunch, and pack.
The book also provides an opportunity for parents to share New Year’s traditions and explain the significance of a year’s time. From newborn to first grade, this book is one that can be pulled out repeatedly. With every read, your child will discover something new.
Review by Lindsay Williams