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The Picture Book Buzz

Wide-Awake Bear - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Who hasn't had (or been) a child that couldn't sleep, worried about shadows or creaky noises? A child who needed one more story or one more drink of water? What happens when a little bear is told he must sleep until spring?

Pat Zietlow Miller (Sophie's Squash) has done it again. She's created a delightful story of a little bear unable to fall asleep.

Wide-Awake Bear

Author: Pat Zietlow Miller

Illustrator: Jean Kim

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers (2018)

Ages: 4-8 years



Bedtime, nature, hibernation, and fear of the dark.

Synopsis (from Harper Collins):

The adorable, relatable bedtime story of a baby bear who can’t fall asleep, from the award-winning author of Sophie’s Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller, and debut artist Jean Kim.

Every baby bear knows the warmth of spring only comes after sleeping through the cold of winter. For little cub Elliott, however, it’s not that easy. First, something tickles his nose, rousing him from a dream, and then every shadow, noise, and passing thought keeps him up. No amount of fluffing of his pillow or tossing and turning will help. He even tries nudging his mom out of her slumber! But he’s…Still. Wide. Awake.

Artist Jean Kim infuses Pat Zietlow Miller’s charming text with cozy warmth and playful humor. This beautiful picture book will be a favorite bedtime story for children, adults, and baby bears alike!

Opening Lines:

One cold, gray day, Elliott's mother called him inside.

"Time to nap," she said. "We'll sleep 'til spring."

Elliott took a final bite of berries and hurried into their den.

"I miss spring," he said.

Why I like this book:

Taking a universal problem for many children, the inability to quiet their brains or calm their fears at bedtime, Pat creates an adorable, friendly, and soothing story. Though Elliott initially falls asleep, his dreams of spring and honey are interrupted by a tickling firefly. Nothing he tries will quiet his brain. He is "Still. Wide. Awake." (I love Pat's simple, fun refrain.)

That's when he notices the creepy, scary shadows and the cold wind. Waking his mother, she helps him discover what makes shadows and how to make silly ones. Comforted, Elliott tries to sleep only to have his brain keep him awake with questions about what was happening during winter.

Finally, after answering his questions, filling his belly, and snuggling against his warm mommy, Elliott yawns and is able to "Sleep. Until. Spring." As an added bonus, the progression of the story through the seasons is beautifully framed by Jean Kim in the end pages. Opening the book, the reader experiences an animal's fall (complete with falling leaves and jack-o-lanterns). Then with the final page turn, spring had returned with flowers, sunshine, and butterflies. Overall, this is a perfect book for bedtimes.


- draw your favorite season and show why you like it so much; and

- write or draw what do you do to help you fall asleep?

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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