Bearnard gets the chance to be in a book and must embrace his sense of self in the process.
“I have always wanted to be in a book!” declares Bearnard as he reads his invitation from the Queen of Storybook Land. The anthropomorphic (though unclothed) bear imagines his story being read by children (with diverse skin tones) at bedtime, in school, or on the playground. Illustrator Saburi’s chunky black outlines couple with cozy pink, blue, and brown fills, making for relaxing illustrations that nevertheless pop. Most spreads contain a gentle floral wallpaper pattern in the background, building a homey feel, bolstered by bold typeface reminiscent of handwriting. Bearnard brainstorms with duck friend Gertie about the possibility of being a knight, an astronaut, or “Super Bear!” in the storybook. This provides an entry point for caregivers to engage with children about what they would be if starring in a book. Bearnard’s confidence waffles as he tries to emulate classic bear stories without success. Gertie guides Bearnard to see himself as brave and worthy just by being himself. Underwood’s social-emotional narrative and the action-oriented illustrations allow for layered reading—if a child is not ready to discuss what might make them brave, they will most certainly be entertained by the imaginative adventures of Bearnard and Gertie.
Open Bearnard’s book for an alternative concept of bravery with humor, sweetness, and friendship at the core. (Picture book. 4-7)