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The Picture Book Buzz

Bearplane! - The Perfect Picture Book Buzz #PPBF

First thing first. The winner of Before Music: Where Instruments Come From by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Madison Safer giveaway is ....

Susan Johnston Taylor

Congratulations, Susan!

Now on to this week's #PPBF choice. If, like me, you love Deborah Underwood's amazing books, including Loving Kindness, XO, Exoplanet, and Outside In, you are going to find a new favorite in this book. In addition to being a wonderful book to ready kids for a plane trip, it will entertain adults as they relive some of the experiences they've had with their own, or others', kids. A touching, humorous, and encouraging book on flying and making new friends.


Author: Deborah Underwood

Illustrator: Sam Wedelich

Publisher: Dial Books for Your Readers/PRH (2022)

Ages: 2-5



Airplane travel, bears, first flight, rhyming, adventure, and new friends.


Buckle up for a little bear's first flight in this adorable, light-as-air picture book by New York Times bestselling author Deborah Underwood and critically acclaimed artist Sam Wedelich.

Follow a bear cub, their grownup, and their beloved stuffie Teddy as they make their way through the busy airport and cub's first plane ride. Their destination? A bear-y special family reunion with grandma! This cheerful, rhyming, reassuring go-to for little ones preparing for their first (or second or tenth) flight is a gentle adventure full of accessible bear puns and delightful touches, plus a detailed map of the bear-port on the endpapers.

Opening Lines:

Wake up, cub! We can't be late!

It's no time to hibernate.

Pack your clothes.

We're almost ready.

Got your ticket -

Wait! Where's Teddy?

What I LOVED about this book:

From the title page, you know you are in for a treat! Just look at that adorable "Bear Plane!" and little bear's punny exclamation - "Look! I'm Packed!"

Text © Deborah Underwood, 2022. Image © Sam Wedelich, 2022.

Written in straightforward, rhyming couplets, this book gently guides a little cub (and the cub's reader friends) through the bearport, throughout the flight, and to their final destination. It is full of sensory experiences (sounds, smells, and turbulence), onomatopoeia, long waits, and mad dashes,

Sam Wedelich's masterfully captured the experience of walking into a LOUD and busy bearport (airport) for the first time. I love how little cub & mum stand out from everything and everyone else. Sam even managed to get age, ability (crutches - in the ticket line), and a nod toward diversity (Panda bears) seamlessly woven into the illustration.

Text © Deborah Underwood, 2022. Image © Sam Wedelich, 2022.

Deborah and Sam work the bears through security (including a near mishap with Teddy), into the main terminal for a bit of shopping, food (fish on sticks 😊), and a reminder to "Watch your wheels," as little cub rolls a suitcase over another bear's foot.

Intermixing a bit of humor, some unexpected rhymes, and wonderful illustrations, the bears get on the plane... and wait. I love their faces, cupped in their paws, and the "thousands" of 'waits' around them - until they finally "push back from the gate."

Text © Deborah Underwood, 2022. Image © Sam Wedelich, 2022.

A few scattered "WHEE!" and "WOW!"s as they journey through the terminal build to little cub's enthusiasm and wide-eyed wonder as the plane soars into the sky.

Text © Deborah Underwood, 2022. Image © Sam Wedelich, 2022.

Initially seemingly like 'an antagonist,' a grouchy old bear gets grumpier and growlier as little cub squishes his foot, dumps a cub of honey on his head, and needs reminding not to kick the old bear's chair. Making adults cringe as they remember miserable flights sitting in front of (or trying to coral) a restless little one on a plane. But, with a special treat, little cub ends up making a friend. Fortunately, since his new friend rescues Teddy from the plane.

Wonderfully mirroring the earlier scene of mum and little cub waiting, when the plane descendes and "ears feel funny," Sam shows mum and little cub leaning heads against each other and chewing gum, surrounded by the words - "Chew, chew, pop."

Little cub's excitement and wonder continue to their ultimate destination. Which, like the initial terminal scene, is wonderfully diverse and full of some fun surprises. It is a comforting, yet realistic, trip. The soft, digital illustrations are packed with fun details and team up well with the gentle story creating a terrific book to read before (and perhaps during) a child's first experience of an airport and plane ride.


- make and decorate each of these four paper airplanes ( Which flew the farthest, highest, or craziest?

- write or draw a list of important things for you to take on the plane trip. Such as books, activity or re-useable sticker books, paper, pencil, stuffed friend, snacks, special blanket.....

- pair this book with Maisy Goes on a Plane: A Maisy First Experiences Book by Lucy Cousins, The Airport Book by Lisa Brown, and Airplane Flight!: A Lift-the-Flap Adventure by Susanna Leonard Hill.

If you missed the interview of Deborah Underwood on Monday, find it (here).

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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