He didn’t mean to annoy all the other animals. He was just naturally curious.
“There once was a bear who liked to stare.” He’s big and orange and never says a word, but he never blinks either. On the story’s first page, he sits on the ground and stares a bit unnervingly at readers. On the facing page, he’s a little closer to them. And on the next double-page spread, all that can be seen are just his big staring eyes! Bear stares at the ladybugs enjoying a picnic; they scuttle away. Bear climbs a tree to stare at a bird family; the mother bird squawks at him to go away. He stares into a badger’s burrow and gets a good bite on the nose. But when Bear stares at a frog sitting contentedly on a lily pad, the amphibian just stares back. “Not much fun being stared at, is it?” the frog asks, and Bear admits that this is true. His gaze shifts to the water, where he sees…himself! His mouth curls into a smile, and he feels happy. Bear has learned his lesson, and now when he encounters his forest neighbors, he smiles. The text and pictures are harmoniously minimal, the former simple in structure but with rich vocabulary (“gawking,” “pondered,” “muttered”) and the latter pleasantly flat and planar, in the manner of Jon Klassen. The eyebrows do yeomen’s work.
A nicely understated lesson in politeness for the very young. (Picture book. 3-5)