Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mr Bear Branches and the cloud conundrum by Terri Rose Baynton

c o n u n d r u m

I do like this word.  I like the sound of it and I like the implication of a puzzle to solve.

Mr Bear Branches and the cloud conundrum is a book where science and imagination can meet. This is also a story about compassion and friendship and clouds.

Bear Branches is a scientist.  "he was reading - books on quantum physics, pterodactyls and the biology of amoebae."  Liftfrey Longfellow is a dreamer.  Together, though, they do enjoy watching clouds.  "They would lie on the soft, cool grass and watch as the clouds drifted by.  Bear Branches called it 'Cloud appreciation' and Lintfrey certainly appreciated them."

One day Liftfrey talks about sitting on a cloud.  Bear Branches offers a scientific explanation about why this would be impossible.  He mentions condensation and evaporation.  Lintfrey becomes sad. Bear Branches recognises his friend has a dream which he has, perhaps inadvertently, crushed so the pair pack supplies, including a flask of peppermint tea, and set off out of town.

There are some beautiful words and phrases in this book :
through gullies and grass
tender toes
cramped calves
buoyant clouds
cottony clouds

While the illustrations in this book seem quite simple I did like the retro pallet of cream, brown, black and red accents and I do like books about clouds. One of my all time favourites is a very old book called Clouds by Peggy Blakeley.

Make sure you take a look at the end papers of Mr Bear Branches and the cloud conundrum.  At the front there are lots of buttons - is this our scientific and man-made world? At the back are leaves and seeds - perhaps this represents nature.  Compare these with the end papers in the Anthony Browne book The Tunnel.  Here is a set of teaching notes.  This book also reminded me of Henry and Amy right-way-round and upside down by Stephen Michael King.

Are you curious about why I picked up this book?  Is was published in 2012 and so has been in our school library (undiscovered I imagine) for four years.  We have begun to cull our picture books. This is a difficult process but our shelves are too full.  I have begun pulling out older books and some of the very simple picture books which might not appeal to our students. Among them I found Mr Bear Branches and the cloud conundrum.  I picked it up to read and noticed it came from a trusted supplier. Naturally I bought it home to read and now I have shared it with you.  It won't go on our culling pile.

Terri Rose Baynton is from New Zealand and she is the daughter of the award winning author Martin Baynton.  You may have read his Jane and the Dragon series or seen the animated films.

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