Written by Florence Minor, illustrated by Wendell Minor 
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins
Publication Date: June 25th, 2013 
ISBN 9780061950902
$17.99 • Ages 4-8


A Summer 2013 Kids' Indie Next List

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Panda bears who eat bamboo and take long naps lead off. They are followed by bears of the sloth, polar, black, moon, sun, grizzly and spectacled variety. And the final entry is, of course, every child’s favorite: smiling teddy bears nestled together and looking very much like the bears on the previous pages. The Minors previously collaborated on If You Were a Penguin (2009). Here, their verse is just as breezy and dotted with occasional bits of information. The expansive double-page spreads show the bears in their natural settings; a polar bear stares into the icy water, and a black bear snoozes on a tree limb. The textured brush strokes create realistic and expressive images, while playful and colorful variations in the type add to the appeal. A lovely title to engage the imaginations and interest of budding animal enthusiasts. 


“If You Were a Panda Bear,” by the author Florence Minor and her husband, the illustrator Wendell Minor, isn’t all about pandas. In brilliant colored gouache, with soft, fuzzy, furry detail, the Minors, who live and work in rural Connecticut, depict 10 kinds of bears enjoying their natural environments. Seen with their cubs, hunting, napping or moongazing, these bears range from the familiar polar bears and black bears to sun bears, sloth bears and moon bears.
A simple narrative, again in rhyme, gives a few facts about each bear (“If you were a moon bear, / You’d stay out late at night, /And the mark on your chest / Would look just like a light”), supplemented by a list of more earnest “Bear Fun Facts” at the end of the story. All the bears, even the impressively tall grizzly, look friendly, and the 10th bear — shown in his home environment, among other toys in a cozy chair, is, like this beautiful book, clearly a good bedtime companion.


A picture-book introduction to the world’s eight bear species. Similar in format to the Minors’ If You Were a Penguin (HarperCollins, 2009), Panda Bear is written in rhymed quatrains ... about each breed. Skillfully detailed paintings show the variety in textures of the bears’ fur–some soft, some wiry, others thick and fluffy. Facial close-ups of panda, sloth, black, moon, sun, and spectacled bears show intelligence and compassion. ... Two appended pages of “Bear Fun Facts” and a half page of excellent “Bear Sources and Websites” are appropriate for older children.

The downloadable activity page for IF YOU WERE A books is now live on the Harper site, here: 

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