I enjoy the work of Cynthia Rylant. Her quirky characters and fun language allow her to write for multiple ages. I knew of, but had not read a lot of her Lighthouse Family series. I picked up The Bear (the eighth book) the other day and finally read it last night.
First, if you are going to read this book, read the others first. I felt a few pieces of information were missing. While there was a recap of who Pandora, Seabold and their family is, it would have been good to learn how a cat (Pandora), a dog (Seabold) and three mice (Whistler, Lila and Tiny) become a family. However, that does not take away from the fact this is a delightful story and each book is connected, but is also its own story. This adventure might be mentioned later, but it is all in “the here and now” as well.
The illustrations of Preston McDaniels are fabulous. These black and white pieces of artwork are extremely detailed. They show the landscape in a fabulously realistic manner. The scene where one of the children blow their nose during their cold is hilarious. You can almost hear the tiny honk. The fact, instead of a watch or by their own sense of time, the small hourglass that Seabold give the children to tell them when their hour is up, is a quirky piece of text that comes to life.
While there is not a lot of traditional action (the children do not get into trouble, they are not blown away or fall off the cliff), there is a flow to the text that gets the reader moving on to the next page.
Over all this is a fun book for the more established reader (second or third grade) but can also be a fun read-aloud.