When disgruntled Little Bear leaves his family to seek adventure outside their forest home, he finds a deserted house—and just enough adventure for one day.
The cover art makes good use of the large, vertical layout, with the comical, long-snouted Little Bear in the foreground and a red, multistoried house in the background. That art immediately poses questions that will be answered in time. For one, why is Little Bear struggling through pine trees with a ruffled, polka-dot piece of cloth tied around his neck and a standing lamp in his paws? From the beginning, text and art create giggles, because Little Bear has so many recognizable human qualities: both resentment and affection toward family members; refusal to play with peers when on an independent mission; imaginative fears; false bravado after returning to the safety of home. Young readers will appreciate the irony evident in several places, as when Little Bear insists that little boys, unlike bear cubs, are unencumbered adventurers. The surprising climax and the coda also provide irony. The text, translated (without credit) from the French, is shot through with wry, funny turns: “Little Bear takes courage into his own paws.” From the scarlet, plant-festooned endpapers to Little Bear’s hilarious antics with house amenities and from Little Bear’s imagined, Sendak-ian monsters to the details of forest animals fleeing through trees, the art perfectly complements the lighthearted text.
A sure hit that encourages independence—but not without a bit of gentle teasing. (Picture book. 3-6)