Reading, writing, listening, helping, thanking: Bear and his animal friends can inspire young readers in family, school, or...

BEAR'S BOOK

Bear is a great reader, but when he wants to write his own book, he suffers from a common malady: writer’s block.

He tries to find ideas by engaging in his favorite activities. First he tries to find a tree he can scratch his back on, but Mouse asks him for help with his dancing. Then he goes for a swim in the river—but there, he’s enlisted to help tow Rabbit’s boat back to the riverbank. Finally, he tries climbing a tall tree, but a baby owl needs rescuing. Frustrated, he returns to his house for lunch. Sitting at his little table with its blue gingham tablecloth, he tries again to write a story like his favorites, which have “exciting beginnings, dramatic middles, and happy-ever-after endings.” The ideas start to percolate. Bear writes and draws his own wonderful story to share when his good friends come around with a gift to thank him for his assistance. Presented as a gatefold, with antiqued paper and scrollwork borders, Bear’s opus is a special pirate story starring all the animals that Bear met that morning. The theme of friendship is matched by the warm, cozy feeling of the mixed-media illustrations. Bear’s helpfulness and his budding creativity make him a positive role model.

Reading, writing, listening, helping, thanking: Bear and his animal friends can inspire young readers in family, school, or library settings. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0571-8

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Like an old black-and-white movie, this companion to The Boy and the Airplane (2013) will remain charming and relevant—the...

THE GIRL AND THE BICYCLE

A girl spies a gleaming bike in a shop window and decides to earn enough money doing yardwork to buy it.

This wordless, retro book (the girl’s molded curls, turtleneck, plaid skirt and Mary Janes definitely come from another era) champions both grit and kindness, but it seems mighty bleak at times. Moody cement-gray papers, nearly colorless illustrations and a cast of cold adults make the girl’s determination and her working relationship with one kind neighbor all the more moving. Much of Pett’s engrossing narrative is relayed through characters’ limbs, eyes and brows, as many times they simply don’t have mouths. The blank effect of a face without a smile, smirk or frown carries unexpected weight, delivering a sense that the character struggles to withhold or manage emotions. And talk about emotions! After working for the same spectacled lady for months earning money raking, planting and cleaning, the girl rushes to the store only to find her bike already sold. Many young readers may reel just imagining such staggering disappointment and be further boggled by her angelic decision to purchase a tricycle for her small brother instead. Never fear, a Capra-esque ending awaits.

Like an old black-and-white movie, this companion to The Boy and the Airplane (2013) will remain charming and relevant—the old story about what you get when you give never really gets old. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8319-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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