Welcome Home, Bear by II Sung Na – Review by Elaina Hancock
What is home? What does “home” mean? How do you begin explaining what a habitat is to a preschooler? In Welcome Home, Bear, author II Sung Na invites young readers to explore these questions; important questions they may have not considered about subjects they have perhaps taken for granted.
Bored Bear begins the journey waking up in his same forest, under the same sky and decides to embark on a quest to find a new, more exciting place to call home. Readers are introduced to various animals in their habitats as Bear visits many friends along the way, bird, mole, camel, squid-to name a few. Bear is is often welcomed but manages to surprise a few of his hosts at each location in his search. Mostly, his hosts seem slightly amused by Bear’s visit, content in their own homes. Despite the exciting new experiences at each new place, bear always seems to find something that isn’t quite what he is looking for in a potential new home. In a very Goldilocks fashion, Bear finds the new homes either too high up, too stuffy, too wet, too cold, or too hot, leaving him unsatisfied and continuing his search.
The frustration Bear experiences is apparent through the animated expressions and goofy reactions with each new location which are sure to inspire giggles from readers. The artwork is vivid, colorful and engaging, through its use of interesting perspectives make each beautiful and surreal page come alive.
The theme of wanderlust will be familiar with many readers, especially with those who have at one point or another imagined what it would be like to live somewhere new and exciting. Many readers may have similarly felt bored with their own same old, same old, have been exhilarated about new experiences and have felt the cozy relief of returning to their own spaces. This empathy for Bear’s desire for change is one reason why Welcome Home, Bear is a great introduction to the meaning of habitat and what home means not only for animals but for humans as well. This book will trigger important discussions such as changing habitats, the characteristics of the animals that make them suitable for their habitats or what each reader would like or dislike about each location-the possibilities are endless.
Bear’s travels take him far from home, and by the time he realizes how perfect his same old forest is, readers will know why the cozy green grass and relaxing blue sky are home for Bear. Bear’s expression finally settles on serene when as rests his head on a familiar rock back in his home forest, tired after his long and arduous journey. He realizes he is just where he wants to be, that he is truly home.
Laina Hancock is a lover of reading, writing, science, but most of all her 2 preschool age children. She is always looking for ways to help her budding young scientists explore the world around them. When time allows she also blogs at http://elainahancock.com/
She lives with her family in Storrs, CT.