While young ones will recognize Bear’s fears and appreciate the reassuring endings, this Bear doesn’t measure up to the most...

BEAR AT THE BEACH AND OTHER ADVENTURES

Three stories originally published as separate 40-page readers are repackaged as one longer chapter book.

In 1996 Kirkus described the title story as “A depressing fable.” Twenty years later the toy bear’s longing for a perfect father is even less appealing, with its pat, predictable, and cloying resolution. In the second story, a “Used-Up Bear” (originally published in 1998) imagines the worst—being discarded. Other, newer stuffed animals compound his distress with predictions that his owner, a white girl named Clara, will choose one of them to replace him. In the end, Clara refurbishes Bear with a flannel “bear suit” done in a red that is rather jarring against the simple line-and-watercolor art of pastel blues, lilacs, and yellows that predominate. In “Lonesome Bear” (2001), this rather insecure stuffed animal panics when he wakes up and sees that Clara is gone. As he searches for her he meets a rabbit who helps him make “Lost Girl” posters and a cat who tries to convince both of them that being on your own is really better. Predictably, Clara has also been searching for Bear and brings him, along with the rabbit and the cat, home to a cozy dinner.

While young ones will recognize Bear’s fears and appreciate the reassuring endings, this Bear doesn’t measure up to the most famous of anxiety-ridden bears. Winnie the Pooh is still a better choice for independent readers. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63322-370-7

Page Count: 131

Publisher: Seagrass/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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