I'm not sure I like it when the classics are meddled with. The Bill Martin Jr/Eric Carle classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? has been ruined.
My mum has an old copy of this book. It's seen its way through ten grandchildren, from the oldest (now at uni) right down to my own daughter, and has managed to survive with the help of a little sticky tape. The first page has a big picture of a bear with the words "Brown bear, Brown bear, what do you see?" The next page has a double-page spread picture of a bird with the words "I see a red bird looking at me" on the left and "Red bird, red bird, what do you see?" on the right. We go through a succession of colored animals created in whimsical collages by Eric Carle (of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame).
Recently I bought Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? (online, sight unseen), which follows the same format. Except that it doesn't. And when I checked on Amazon, I see the latest Brown Bear editions have been mangled in the same way: now the new animal is introduced on the same page as the picture of the previous animal. So "I see a red bird looking at me" is on the right-hand page of the spread showing the picture of the bear. Confusing, to say the least.
This is one of those "What the hell were they thinking?" moments, like when I bought a $12 dish rack from Kmart only to find that dishes fall over when you try to stack them in it to dry. Did no one check this simple item was functional before putting it in the store?
The awkwardness of the new layout was brought home to me the other day when the presenter on Play School read the Polar Bear book during storytime. Despite the new format, the presenter intuitively read the book as if it was the old format - turning the page to show the new animal before announcing what the animal was.
Brown Bear has become as nonfunctional as a Kmart dish rack.
(Last year Publishers Weekly announced that a new "My First Reader" edition of the book reverts to the original pagination, but that doesn't help those of us buying the board book for toddlers, nor does it explain why they changed the layout in the first place.)