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BEAR IS A BEAR by Jonathan Stutzman


by Jonathan Stutzman ; illustrated by Dan Santat

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-06-288051-2
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

In this ode to the timelessness of cherished playthings, a toy bear accompanies a child through myriad experiences.

Bear is not just a bear. Bear is a warm, soft pillow, a tissue when necessary, and a willing and equal partner in play. Bear takes on these various roles with gusto, depicted, through the eyes of a child, as a real, large bear with expressive features and anthropomorphic body language. Humor and sentiment abound as Bear’s reactions elevate the simple yet touching text. Throughout the scenes, the mutual adoration between Bear and child is apparent, and their bond sees them through all kinds of moments, from energetic pirate play to snuggling together during a scary storm. As the child ages, Bear’s necessity fades, and it is relegated to an old trunk and forgotten. Some time later, remembered once more, Bear starts a new friendship after being introduced to the next generation, making its journey come full circle. The repetitive beginning of each sentence—“Bear is…”—reinforces the soothing, reassuring tone of this gentle story. Bear’s rich, golden brown fur exudes warmth and comfort while embodying the repeating refrain: “Bear is a bear full of love.” The heavy use of white space on several pages puts the focus on the pair’s relationship and reflects how they are content in a world of their own. Both the original child and Bear’s new human friend have straight, black hair and pale skin. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Will have adults and young readers alike reflecting on the indispensable natures of their own favorite stuffies.

(Picture book. 4-8)