LONG swishy grass, a deep cold river, thick oozy mud, a big dark forest and a whirling snowstorm prove no obstacles for a family of bear hunters. But a big bear in a dark cave is another matter, signalling the time for our heroes, their bravery tested to the limits, to run for their duvet cover. We're Going on a Bear Hunt (Walker $68), retold by Michael Rosen and with watercolours and pencil drawings by top children's illustrator Helen Oxenbury, is a delight to read aloud. Drama, suspense and humour leap from every page. Its exciting rhythm, the type varying in size to fit in with the action and its sound effects also make this a highly suitable first reader. Martians at Mudpuddle Farm by Michael Morpurgo and Shop Rayner (Jets $51) finds Albertine the clever goose leading the other farm animals round in a circle to escape a swarm of bees searching a novice on his first solo flight. The farmer thinks that the resulting corn circle is the work of Martians. Whimsical soft toys have fun experimenting with pretend snow - flour, feathers, bubbles and bits of paper - in Jane Hissey's inventive Jolly Snow (Red Fox $51). This wintery story with its realistic illustrations has an enchanting ending when the longed-for real snow finally arrives. Wildflower Tea (Green Tiger Press, $140) is a touching, timeless story of an old man who enjoys picking wild flowers and berries during the months of spring, summer and autumn, which are stored in his attic until he is ready to brew them into a special winter tea which can rekindle the spirit of warmer times. The book is written by Ethel Pochock and well illustrated in pastels by Roger Essley but he uses colours which are a little sombre for small children. Children can look at the sky and let their imaginations run riot with the help of Sky (Green Tiger Press, $140) with words and pictures by Ariane Dewey. Far from being an empty void, Ms Dewey informs her readers how the sky is full of elements and action, from the meteorological to the mythological, from spaceships to bumble bees. The book also includes popular rhymes about the weather and sky. Hallo! How Are You? by Shigeo Watanabe, illustrated by Yasue Ohtomo (Red Fox, $53) is the sort of book which annoys me. The word ''hallo'' is repeated on almost every page as a bear seeks a friendly creature to greet. Scrub out the ''a'' and replace it with ''e'' and you would have a useful first reader or simple story to read aloud.