How do you teach a grown bear new tricks?
An intrepid young bird-watcher in pursuit of a Scouting merit badge decides to help a bear find a snack in this whimsical tale. “DON’T EAT THAT!!!” Gertie explodes when she sees it about to chomp on a rock. Thanks to frontmatter illustrations, readers know what she does not: The bear has been dropped off by the city zoo and so doesn’t know how to function in the woods. Comic-strip panels alternate with full- or double-page spreads, with the text largely confined to dialogue bubbles, while cartoony Photoshop illustrations carry most of the story. Basic efforts at communication between the two prove problematic, and the bear’s lack of woods savvy (it tries to eat a skunk) and skills (it can’t swim) don’t help either. Puns abound as multiple efforts by the protagonist fail to come to fruition. The two end up far from happy, and Gertie starts to realize that her help may not be so helpful after all. Surely they can work together so that it can learn to fill its tummy! While there is little wholly original here, the messages of friendship and teamwork are portrayed nicely, the minimal text will appeal to reluctant readers, and youngsters will come away with a chuckle. Gertie has blonde hair and pale skin.
An uncomplicated tale of consideration and cooperation rendered in an accessible format. (Picture book. 3-7)