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Many youngsters will take their first trip to the beach this summer. The Berenstain have this wonderful book for your child to learn the basics of safety at the ocean (or even a lake).
The family drives to the cottage they will be staying in. Gentle waves lap near the cottage. Mama Bear says to Little Bear, "Stay where I can see you." Papa Bear responds by taking Little Bear by the paw to show him where the danger is.
Here are the rules that Papa bear teaches: (1) Obey all warning signs. (2) Look first. Then dive into the water if it is clear. (3) While surfing, beware of all rocks. (4) Watch your step (there are many sharp shells and objects at the shore). (5) Watch what you touch! It may be alive! (6) In a boat, keep a sharp look out. (7) While exploring underwater, stay out of caves.
Now, create a beginning reader that simply relates these rules, and no child will ever finish it or pay any attention. The Berenstains have created a wonderful Vaudeville act by Papa Bear to exemplify why these are good rules. First, he hangs his towel on a sign, so doesn't see the warning that there is strong undertow until it pulls him out and he has to be saved with a life bouy thrown by Little Bear. Then, he ignores a twig that Little Bear points out in the water. The twig ends up being attached to a sunken log, and Papa Bear is banged up by the collision during his dive. Next, Papa Bear ignores the rocks that Little Bear points out on the beach. Sure enough, a big wave comes along and crashes them and their surfboard into those rocks. Papa Bear ends up walking on large turtles. He goes on to take the sail boat into the path of a large liner, and barely escapes. They end up swimming into the mouth of a rather large toothed fish which at first appeared to be a cave.
Then they return to Mama Bear, and Little Bear explains that he now knows all the rules. Unfortunately, the boat is a wreck so Mama Bear can guess they have had problems. Why Mothers get grey!
The psychology is very subtle for waterproofing the child. Ignoring these rules can get you into trouble, and adults may ignore them (even though they insist that you follow them). I recommend introducing your children to this book well before their first trip to the shore so that the humorous lessons will be well entrenched before you arrive.
The examples and the wonderful color drawings complement the simple rhyming scheme that will reinforce the story for your children. It's also a great way for your new reader to expand her/his reading skills. I heartily endorse this book!
Good luck in helping your children overcome the immortality stall (I can't be hurt, because I'm a kid) and the hypocritical stall (I don't have to follow my own rules, because I'm a parent).
Have a nice time at the beach, while you're at it.
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on July 17, 2000
Before Little Bear can enjoy the beach, he must learn some safety rules. Little bear plays the straight man, er, bear, to Papa Bear.
For example, when surfing, Papa Bear tells Little Bear to look out for rocks. Little Bear points out rocks, but Papa Bear says they're the surf's "too far away" as a wave comes and sweeps them onto .. the rocks. Papa bear then says "On the other hand..."
I think this is a great book for a toddler because they can pick up the sense of ironic contradiction. Papa bear tells Little Bear a rule, tries to overlook it, gets in trouble, then spins it to be a perfect example of why that rule's a rule.
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on December 2, 2002
Poor, poor Papa Bear... In THE BEARS' VACATION, by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Small Bear gets taught a few simple rules for when you're at the beach. And although this seems harmless, for every rule Papa Bear recites, something happens to him. For instance,Rule number six is to keep a sharp lookout whil you are out on a boat. Easy enough, right? Well, as Papa Bear 'keeps a look out' for Small Bear, a huge ocean liner comes up from the opposite direction than the way Papa Bear looks. All in all, I found this a fairly humoring story. I gave it a 3 out of 5.
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on December 9, 2003
This book is a humorous account of the Bears on vacation. When the Bears arrive at their vacation house, Papa Bear points out all of the dangers and things to avoid. But he promptly ignores his own advice, with fearful consequences. The book has some tension, but it's not too scary. Some children may pick up on the message that when a parent advises against doing something, there is usually a good reason and that those who ignore the advice may get hurt. The text is presented in rhyme, and there are about 550 words.
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on June 2, 2001
I searched and searched the attic of my parents home but could not find it. Now that I have a son of my own, there was no way his library was going to be without Bears' Vacation. It is a treasure to me, and hopefully one for him, as the humorous yet deeply affectionate relationship between father and son is evident. It was probably the colors, the illustrations, that drew me to the Berenstains works as a child. Now my favorite in the series is my son's to keep as well.
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on April 5, 2002
I give four stars to this book because it is very fun.I choose this book to tell you how good this book is.The most thing that i like is when the bears'family were going to a vacation. And I liked it when the dad of the little Bear was showing the little bear all the rules of the beach.I think other students would like to read this book and review this book it is very good and very fun I recommend you to read this book.
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on August 7, 2000
How can any book about water safety not include life jackets? Not only are they not mentioned, the Bears are never shown wearing them. We spend lots of time around water, and I don't appreciate having to explain to my kids why they have to wear life preservers when the Berenstain Bears don't.
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on June 2, 1997
What a wonderful, witty story! Papa's at his best trying to teach Small Bear safety tips but still always getting into trouble. A great simple reader for beginners
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