Bear, a postman, has never, ever received a letter of his own, and he wants one desperately.
Trudging through his quotidian postal duties, Bear’s burly mass, bulky head and pea-sized eyes lean into the Arctic cold; later, at home he cooks soup and pictures envelopes marked with his name. Sound like a big, bearish bummer? Luckily, Lucas’ simple, velvety lines run on with many “and”s in the hushed, low octaves of a fireside story. Jolly, jagged artwork keeps readers attentive and hopeful. Immensely intricate geometric illustrations (miniature diamonds, lunettes, triangles and squares patterned in oranges, pinks and rusty reds), overlapping panels, interrupted borders and head-tilting angles define Bear’s frosty world. Exploring this tilted landscape of icy evergreens, pointy mountains, twiggy branches, spiky stars and snowflakes will thrill sharp, darting eyes. A flat, matte presentation smooths and softens these stimulating spreads, while circular inset images serve as tender peepholes into Bear’s loneliness. When his letters become smudged, Bear must knock on doors and finally meet his neighbors, all delighted by his hand delivery. A “snowstorm” of Christmas party invitations follows, from Bear to these friendly new acquaintances, and he crosses fingers they show up. They do. And guess what ursine host receives a mailbag of thank-you notes?
A wintry, holiday read much like a gingerbread house: slightly slanted but poignant, sweet, soul-warming and studded with delicious details that warrant close inspection. (Picture book. 2-6)