Little Bear and the Marco Polo by Else Holmelund Minarik

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I know the HarperCollins Level One books are written with a younger audience than me in mind, but I admit to being thrilled when I see a new entry in the Little Bear series.  Although there are many wonderful books for new readers, this series really stands out.  Here’s the first sentence in Little Bear and the Marco Polo:

“Little Bear was in the garden playing with his ladybug, when Grandmother Bear called, ‘Little Bear, Grandfather needs help in the the attic.’  Little Bear loved the attic.”

Okay.  Lots to love there.  First how great is it that Little Bear is “playing” with his ladybug.  How does one play with a ladybug?  And then his grandmother calls to say his grandfather needs help in the attic and Little Bear is excited.  Another checkmark in the “to love” column.  What child doesn’t love the attic! 

In this book, Grandfather explains why his ship is called the Marco Polo, and he tells Little Bear all of the places and animals they could see if they traveled around the world.  Little Bear’s interest and enthusiasm are captured perfectly, and what I most love is how the book stimulates curiosity and presents the world as a great big wonderful place.  What a terrific message to share with students at the beginning of a new school year…

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