USED-UP BEAR by Clay Carmichael


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This story of a well-loved, fraying stuffed toy features a protagonist suffering heartbreaking sadness and misery. An endearing stuffed bear takes stock of his deterioration and has childlike fears that he will soon be discarded. The terrors of being in the basement, tossed in a thrift-shop sale, or becoming a dust rag overwhelm him. During Bear's efforts to avoid becoming more worn, the newer stuffed toys cruelly predict his fate. Readers will be riveted; Bear's anxiety is almost unbearable, so he goes to the garbage can, to wait to be picked up. His owner, Clara, retrieves him and produces a splendid red suit, designed to preserve and protect him. Carmichael (Bear at the Beach, 1996) strikes a chord with children or anyone else who has kept quiet about a source of fear. The spare illustrations present clean, focused scenes; each one highlights the crucial emotion or situation portrayed. In candy colors of blue, lilac, and yellow, the pictures realize all the frightening possibilities a bear can dream up. A joyous ending, in which Bear admires himself ""all morning in the mirror,"" brings great relief, as well as a message of love and loyalty.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: North-South