A little bear seeks reassurance from his mother that she will always love him.
At first, the question-and-answer session follows a familiar pattern. Little Bear has torn his jacket; will Mom still love him? What if he tore all his clothes? If he got bad marks at school? If he made a mess at home? With each query, Mom reassures him. To this point, there’s little remarkable about this book, but then it takes an unexpected turn: “There is something that still worries Little Bear very much, but he doesn’t dare ask….‘What if you died?’ ” Mom takes her time to answer, then tells him that of course she will, and he will feel it “deep inside.” Will she ever love someone else more? he asks, looking “at her round tummy.” The conversation plays itself out as Mom mends the torn jacket, Tharlet’s shaggy ursines posed against vast expanses of white space, the occasional window or chair indicating a domestic interior. The end is abrupt, and readers accustomed to resolution will feel that the loving dialogue has been cut off with a couple page turns yet to go. It honors the attention span of genuine preschoolers, though, realistically capturing their mercurial shifts in mood from existential wonder to absorption in immediate action.
Though it initially treads some familiar territory, this European import sensitively takes readers into an emotional frontier rarely explored. (Picture book. 3-5)