An unexpectedly poignant emotional punch to the gut, an illustrator's tribute to his father featuring a bear and his dad is touching and memorable.
With pages that mix realistic vistas and anthrpomorphized animals with more surreal background touches, author/illustrator Waijers captures the life cycle of a young bear and his loving father. "He was already my best friend when I was born," he writes, on a page featuring the baby bear being cradled by the new parent. The bear grows up, still advised and supported by the father, and, "when his time was up," the father bear ascends a set of piano keys leading to the sky. While some of the stylistic choices seem idiosyncratically personal, there's enough interaction and animation to keep the story from being an emotion-dump. The cleanly drawn, colorful, slightly Disneyesque characters range from the bears themselves to insects, birds and, oddly, fish that appear in the margins. Both they and some of the scenery move and make sounds, making the pages pleasingly lively. While the main story is simple and conveys a message of love and appreciation for a father, parents reading with their children may be most moved by a set of photos of Waijers as a child with his father as well as a tearjerking postscript describing the inspiration for the story.
Sentimental, yes, but a refreshing dose of real emotion among hundreds of apps that are little more than wind-up digital toys. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)