This simple tale riffs on a perennial theme: “There’s no place like home.”
It’s nearly time for bears to hibernate for the winter, but young Bernard thinks his clan’s cave is “too noisy, too big, and too crowded.” Pillow under arm and a yellow, fringed scarf wrapped around his neck, the green-eyed fellow sets off to find a better place to sleep. He tries out Frog’s lily pad, discovering that “[w]et isn’t very comfy.” Ditto for Bird’s windy perch and Rabbit’s too-tight burrow. Hedgehog sleeps in the open—not to Bernard’s liking. And while a spot in a hollow tree seems cozy (if lonely), Badger soon returns to claim it. A pink-tailed gray mouse, who’s observed Bernard’s entire quest, asks “What kind of bed DO you want?” When the bear answers, Mouse knows just what to do. A double-page spread shows the pair backtracking among all of Bernard’s stops, returning to a bed that’s perfect for him. Irish illustrator McFarland’s digitally composed crayon-and-watercolor cutouts are backed by expansive white space. Stylized animals and austere, minimalist flora evoke Jon Klassen’s work—and that sage little mouse, that of Leo Lionni. A visual progression shows that Bernard’s pillow, having trapped leaves and sticks along the way, is left behind for Hedgehog. A final picture depicts the sprawling, slumbering bears.
Pleasant—though it does not plow particularly new ground. (Picture book. 3-6)