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BEAR’S PICTURE by Daniel Pinkwater


by Daniel Pinkwater & illustrated by D.B. Johnson

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: April 21st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-618-75923-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Pinkwater’s terse 1972 tale of an ursine painter who stoutly defends his right to create against the sneers of two critics (“fine, proper gentlemen,” as the text has it) gets a major visual boost from new illustrations in this reissue. The text has been very slightly massaged, and big cubist scenes replace the author’s original small, almost minimalist paintings. Now the bear (wearing an increasingly spattered scarf) and his exaggeratedly dapper tormentors appear in grayscale around a bright semi-abstract canvas that develops, as pages turn, from a hazy smudge of blues and oranges into a lyrical evocation of leaves and water around a cozy hollow log. At the end, the text states only that the two critics leave muttering “Bears are not the sort of fellows to paint pictures,” but Johnson depicts them sinking into the picture’s stream until only their hats are left as part of the composition—a harsher but perhaps more just judgment on their prejudices. Bear makes a grand champion for all young artists, and it wouldn’t hurt for certain grown-ups to hear his message, either. (Picture book. 5-8, adult)