Monday, February 10, 2014

100 Bears, by Magali Bardos

100 Bears
Author/Illustrator: Magali Bardos
Publisher: Flying Eye Books/Nobrow
Publication Date: March 18, 2014
Originally published as Jusqu'à 100 by Actes Sud, September 15, 2012)
Source: Edelweiss
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View original French on

 Oh lord. I understand the appeal of this book, but...

Okay, good things first. The illustrations are beautiful--they're colourful and clever and chock-full of retro appeal. In fact I'd say that the "retro appeal" of the pictures is the whole point of the book (it's not actually "retro"--the original French version was only published a year and a half ago--but it definitely has a nostalgic style).But as to how successful it is as a children's book, well...

As a counting book it's not that great. Yes, there are the correct number to "things" on each page, from one to a hundred, but they neither connect as a narrative nor does each page work entirely on its own. In other words, the book makes no sense.

Besides that, at over 50 pages I think that children young enough to enjoy a counting book might get bored or frustrated before finishing this one. Perhaps if there was more to look at on each page (like an I Spy book or a Richard Scarry book, or even the far superior 100 Hungry Monkeys!). As it is, each page is very busy but also quite monotonous.

All in all it's the sort of book that adults might buy for children because they themselves like the artwork, but that, I think, is its main appeal.

Also, this just needs to be said: There are not 100 bears at the end of the book! Why even call the book that? Was I supposed to count how many bears appear in the whole book? That is a lot less fun than it might seem. It drove me nuts.

Magda's Take:
My four-year-old did not ask to read this a second time. In fact she wasn't interested in reading it all the way through the first time. At first she was excited that it might be in French (like the preview pictures I got from the publisher) but we only got he English version as a digital review copy. then by the time we got to the 7 hunters using 8 guns to fire 9 shots at 10 butterflies (or something like that), Magda was ready to abandon it altogether.

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