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Bill Martin's Bears #1

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

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A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck--all parade across the pages of this delightful book. Children will immediately respond to Eric Carle's flat, boldly colored collages. Combined with Bill Martin's singsong text, they create unforgettable images of these endearing animals.

24 pages, Board book

First published January 1, 1967

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About the author

Bill Martin Jr.

162 books308 followers
Bill Martin, Jr. (1916-2004) was an elementary-school principal, teacher, writer, and poet. His more than 300 books, among them the bestselling classics Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See ; Polar Bear Polar Bear What Do You Hear ; Panda Bear Panda Bear What Do You See ; and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom , are a testament to his ability to speak directly to children. Martin held a doctoral degree in early childhood education. Born in Kansas, he worked as an elementary-school principal in Chicago before moving to New York City, where he worked in publishing, developing innovative reading programs for schools. After several years, he devoted himself full-time to writing his children's books. He lived in New York until 1993, when he moved to Texas. He lived in the east Texas woods, near the town of Commerce, until he passed away in 2004.


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5 stars
94,961 (54%)
4 stars
40,248 (23%)
3 stars
27,123 (15%)
2 stars
7,616 (4%)
1 star
3,318 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,186 reviews
53 reviews11 followers
July 31, 2013
Subtexts: perspective, surveillance, paranoia!

I had to read this aloud maybe a hundred nights in a row before I noticed what the text was plainly saying: everyone thinks they are being watched! And ironically, they are the ones doing the watching! From the titular brown bear who is certain that the red bird is watching him/her, each animal is watching an animal and projecting that the very animal they watch, is watching them!

In reality, none of the projected watching is happening. Each animal is watching a different animal, save for the children, who imagine that ALL the animals watch them, when in fact it is the children who gaze out at every animal.

Here are the lessons of the book:
-the people you think are watching you aren't
-actually, it is YOU who is doing the watching!
-animal colors in real life may vary from depictions [though Franz Marc painted some lovely blue horses and I do hope their inclusion here is a nod to him]
Profile Image for Amanda.
47 reviews18 followers
January 19, 2008
Many people may not like this book or think it is too simple a book, not really a story. I think this is a great book. My children love it. It is a perfect book for young children who are just starting to learn letters, their sounds, and words. It is also a great book for those children who may not be great readers. When I taught first grade, I had a few students who weren't able to read. Their confindence level was low and we had a really hard time finding good books that they were able to read independently. But this was one of the few books they enjoyed reading on their own. Any book that can make a child feel like they are a successful reader is a great book in my opinion.
7 reviews1 follower
September 15, 2008
Terrible characterization. Blue Horse? What the heck is that!? The plot is monotonous and dull. And the ending...a montage of scenes from the book, and not even a good one! The only thing I can say in its favor is that you can probably get through it in a couple of days.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,013 reviews104 followers
August 15, 2022
I still (and yes, even years later) cannot even remotely fathom that Bill Martin Junior's classic and universally beloved by young children Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was actually and in fact categorically banned in 2010 by the State Board of Education in Texas because its (and no, I am not really feeling contrite at all or in any manner guilty about being insulting and denigrating here) obviously woefully lacking in even basic intelligence members (and in particular totally moronic board member Pat Harding, who also made things much much worse and herself look absolutely and utterly ridiculous by repeatedly and vocally trying to justify her sorry self) somehow and in error believed that Bill Martin Junior was the author, was the same Bill Martin of the DePaul University in Chicago, who in 2008 penned an academic textbook called Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation (a book I have actually read, and no, it did not turn me into a raging Communist either, Ms. Harding).

I mean, banning children's books is bad enough anyhow as well as it being totally undemocratic and dictatorial (read Stalinist, Fascist), but really for those extremist right-wing Texas ignorants who were obviously infesting the State Board of Education like dangerous parasites to ban and to forbid Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? from being used and displayed in Texas schools because they were obviously not able to figure out that the author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and the author of Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation were different Bill Martins (and especially since Bill Martin Junior had died in 2004 and the other Bill Martin did not even pen his ethical Marxism book until 2008), this just so totally and painfully shows that the Texas Board of Education's members who insisted on Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? being removed from schools are either not able or not willing to adequately research authors or the books they write. And really, how is the Texas Board of Education's 2010 banning of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? any different from when in the South Africa of apartheid, Anna Sewell's classic horse autobiography Black Beauty was banned by government bureaucrats because they thought the novel was about people with darker skins being beautiful (and of course, this could not be accepted in South Africa, and without the bureaucrats even bothering to read Black Beauty, it was banned).

But then again, perhaps Pat Harding actually did read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and thought (after noticing the author's name and freaking out in error and terror) that there indeed might be some kind of hidden and insidious left wing propaganda present and ready to hurt young children in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, to turn them into Communist agitators, that perhaps Eric Carle's illustration of that big red bird signifies Bill Martin Junior's support of Russian Communism, of Leninism and that the yellow duck's colour could be considered as being a positive nod towards China, towards Maoism? I mean, who knows, and while I am of course being majorly tongue in cheek and facetious here, it is indeed pretty darn surprising and woefully painful how many strange reasons for banning books especially book banners in the USA and in staunchly Social Conservative areas do seem to regularly come up with and vehemently support (and democracy, my foot, since Social Conservatism is far far too often politically Fascist in scope and also even quite majorly politically and philosophically akin to Stalinism and Leninism at its extreme, at Social Conservatism's most reactionary and most radical).
Profile Image for Shainlock .
703 reviews
January 1, 2019
4⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️This is a cute and creative book. My niece likes to skip some pages and then go back, then skip and go back. She loves the tabs she gets to pull. She is learning how to wait for her queue to pull them still. Eh, she’ll get there. She’s not even 1.5 yet. :)
I love the rhymes. I like the shapes and forms of the animals, they seem solid and geometric .. easy for a child to see and identify. I also like the bright colors.
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.4k followers
February 17, 2021
[Book #18 for my grad school Children's Lit class]
Profile Image for Ronyell.
956 reviews319 followers
April 30, 2017

I have been an avid fan of Eric Carle’s works, especially of his well-known children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and one of the books that Eric Carle had worked on that I did not get the chance to read when I was little was “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” which was also written by Bill Martin Jr. All in all, this was one children’s book that children should definitely check out!

Since this story is extremely short, the summary will be brief.
Basically, the plot of this book is about the reader seeing various animals comment on what other beings they are looking at that precise moment, while each animal states a variation of this quote:

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear,
What do you see?
I see a red bird looking at me.

Red Bird, Red Bird,
What do you see?
I see a yellow duck looking at me.”

Wow! I cannot believe that I waited this long to finally pick up this popular children’s book and it was definitely worth reading in the end! I loved the simplistic style that Bill Martin Jr. brought to this book as the plot is basically having readers see various animals in different colors popping up in the book and commenting on other animals they have seen. I loved the fact that each animal is a different color such as having a blue horse and a purple cat as it brings a unique spin to the storytelling of this book and I was quietly anticipating seeing what kind of animals we will see pop up in this book. Eric Carle’s artwork is as always, a delight to look at as all the characters are rendered in paper cut outs which gives the book a creative look and I really loved the images of the different animals that show up in this book, such as the purple cat and the blue horse!


Even though there is nothing wrong with this book, I have to wonder why it was banned in the first place? Well, it turns out that when it was banned, the person who banned the book made a mistake regarding the author of this book, who is Bill Martin Jr. and the person thought that it was the same Bill Martin who wrote the book “Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation.” Now, I have never read any of the “other” Bill Martin’s books, but this was the first instance where a book was mistakenly banned for the wrong reasons and that got me curious yet annoyed.

Overall, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” is a truly cute book for children who want to have fun with identifying animals and colors all wrapped up into one book! I would recommend this book to children ages three and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Profile Image for Jennifer Brinkmeyer.
128 reviews1 follower
March 15, 2016
This is the story of a teacher so dedicated that her students simply called her Teacher. She celebrated her classroom's multi-racial, multi-ethnic diversity with an array of class pets: a brown bear, a red bird, a yellow duck, a blue horse, a green frog, a purple cat, a white dog, a black sheep, and a goldfish. Some criticize her teaching methods, citing the dangers of bears in the classroom, but I stand by her choice to lead with alliteration in spite of any potential maulings.
Profile Image for Angie **loves angst**.
270 reviews15 followers
September 15, 2013
My Kindergarteners made me read this to them five times on Friday at work. Five times!!!!! By the time I was done, I could tell every word to the story without looking at the pages. Some one please save me from pushy five year olds with a penchant for rhyming books.

Profile Image for Miranda.
9 reviews5 followers
April 5, 2008
I wasn't really into this book when I was little, but this is my daughter's favorite book- so I have to give it 5 star props. Whenever we get to the black sheep, she yells out "BAAAAAA!"

Many mornings she wakes up and demands, "BOOK!" and if I don't pick this one, she yells, "Noooooooo! BOOOOK!" until I read her Brown Bear...
Profile Image for Nita.
250 reviews51 followers
April 26, 2013
Bold move to not order the animals according to the ROY G BIV spectrum. Makes it slightly more challenging to memorize. I'm almost there, though.

My eleven week old daughter giggles like a maniac whenever I start reading this book to her, and she is particularly fascinated by the final page. Hence -- because of the maniacal gurgling and concurrent kicking -- five stars, although personally I found the narrative arc a bit flat.
Profile Image for Donovan.
687 reviews59 followers
December 27, 2017
My daughter loves this for the animals and repetition. It does well to teach color, perception, and basic animal recognition. But it honestly gives me a headache with its dull repetition and lack of rhyme use when it so easily would have improved readability.
Profile Image for Amie's Book Reviews.
1,493 reviews160 followers
December 27, 2019
Any children's book by Eric Carle becomes an instant classic - and rightly so.

The illustrations are absolutely fabulous and are so wonderous that it would look gorgeous if each page was framed and hung around a baby's or child's bedroom.

I can't say enough good things about this children's book. If you do not already have a copy of this book for your child, you should buy it asap. You will NOT be disappointed.

5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Profile Image for Claudia.
51 reviews7 followers
November 22, 2021
This book will always have a special place in my heart no matter what anyone says about it. <3 <3 <3 <3
Profile Image for LaDonna.
174 reviews2,452 followers
January 25, 2020
Something tells me that I may be on the island alone, as today was the first time that I read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? 🤭 Something also tells me that I enjoyed losing my virginity because I read the book with my students. More accurately, they read it to me!! 🤗 I can still hear the rhythmic cadence of Bill Matin’s story even as I write this review. 😉 And, then by adding the highly recognizable illustrations by Eric Carle, you are bound to have a truly enjoyable read.
Profile Image for #AskMissPatience.
144 reviews19 followers
July 5, 2021
Eric Carle And Bill Martin Jr’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Is A Creative Collage Of Learning.

The Activity Potential With Early And Young Learners Abound.

My Favorite Is The Art. As A Teacher Encouraged Students To Create Their Own Color Collage Animal.

The Skills Used Run From Dexterity To Storytelling. Cross Curriculum. Art To Science When Including Study Of The Animals And Even The Imaginary Creatures Brought To Life.

Students Can Develop Their Individual Stories And Design A Group Narrative Collectively.

Begin With One Student Following A Story Starter. Then, Go Around To Each Child Asking For Inclusion Of Their Animal And Use Of One New Word They Learned This Week. Or, Make Up Their Own Word And Explain What This Means. Perhaps A Sound The Animal Makes.

For Inspiration Read Dr Seuss With Silly Words To Help Along.

Have Students Mount The Animal On Construction Paper. Bind The Book With Yarn. Publish As Part Of The Classes Publishing Company.

You Get Where This Is Going, Right?
Literacy And What’s Possible Today Are Endless. Empowering Happiness Through Literacy Engages Students Regardless Of Background With A Few Supplies And Prompts.

This Book Is A Great Partner To Mary O'neill’s Hailstones & Halibut Bones.

As I Recall, How The Story Became Is Mary’s Publisher Or Agent Was Asking For Another Book And Were Given Permission To Look Through Her Papers.

Back In Those Days All We Writers Had Were Pages Of Paper With Writing. Sometimes In Drawers, Filing Cabinets, Pockets … Who Am I Kidding? This Is Still My Life.

Anyway, What Is Uncovered Is Pages And Pages Of Color Descriptions Leading To This Book.

What’s Especially Magical Is The Discovery Of Blind Individuals Being Able To Imagine Colors Based On The Colorful Cataloging Of Categories Mary Uses To Enhance Senses Which Helps People Who’ve Been Born With No Sight For Context.

This Book And Other Carle Creations Is A Legacy I Hope To Follow Inspired By His Work.

Growing my hardcover book collection added a copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see in honor of one of my favorite children’s artists, Eric Carle

Profile Image for midnightfaerie.
1,909 reviews120 followers
June 13, 2013
Definitely one our favorite books. Great illustrations and fun to say out loud. All my kids pretty much have the book memorized so much so that we recite it in the car. Easy reading, but a good book for an older sibling to read to their younger siblings and a great way to learn colors. A book the whole family loves.
Profile Image for Ama.
645 reviews11 followers
March 14, 2019
I can't recall how many times I've read this for storytime over the years. A lot. That's the answer. It's a favorite for all.
Profile Image for Jill.
563 reviews40 followers
March 4, 2016
I read this with my children. Classic kids book! They have memorized it they love so much!
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,026 reviews30 followers
May 3, 2021
One of my favorites. Great illustrations
January 17, 2022
Text-To Teaching Connections

I think Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Did You See is a great book to introduce a lesson on colors for art. This book allows colors to be fun and interesting. I would ask each child to get into groups to represent each animal of the book. One group would be the bear, another group would be the dog and so forth. We would construct their own animals using construction paper and crayons.

When reading the book for the second time, I would have each group hold up their animals and make the appropriate sounds of those animals. We can also students to identify realistic animals (such as the white dog) and animals that are more creative to the imagination (the blue horse).
Profile Image for April.
491 reviews15 followers
March 31, 2020
Okay so my kid leveled up a couple days ago and is now VERY into his board books, specifically this book. I have read this book 800 times in 2 days. He sits on the floor and just turns the pages of it. It is “slide and find” and he knows how to slide all the doors. He cries if I put it down after reading it 8 times in a row. I’ve learned a trick that resets the sliding door on the next page without him seeing. I have read this book a lot.

Anyway this is going to be a VERY LONG PANDEMIC with Eric Carle although there are worse books to be reading a thousand times an hour. Please send us wine and more flap books.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,186 reviews

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