Minimal text and retro illustrations tell the parallel tales of a young boy and a bear cub.
Using only nine different words, Poulin’s text repeats for both the boy, on a camping trip with his mother, and the bear cub: “He’s a little scared” shows the boy on a limb that stretches out over the water, his mother waiting below with outstretched arms. On another spread, the words are illustrated with a bear cub on a similar limb above a dumpster. Following pages show the boy and his mother in their campsite and the cub inside the dumpster; both offspring are eating. Then the boy gets a chore: biking the trash over to the dumpster. “He’s very scared” shows the boy furiously pedaling away from the mother bear, who’s next to the dumpster where her cub is trapped. The humans return to the dumpster together and place a log inside so the cub can climb out. “No longer scared,” mom and son roast marshmallows under the moon, and the bears cuddle together. Joffre’s artwork, which appears to be paper collage, visually fills in the rest of the story, and readers can pore over the pages, which teem with details. The colors and style (especially the giant racing stripes on the mustard-colored pickup) lend the whole thing a retro feel that suits. Mother and son present white.
Conquering fears, helping others, and perhaps a message about wild animals and human garbage—though almost wordless, this book certainly says a lot. (Picture book. 3-8)