George the bear is bored.
He doesn’t want to “do the usual bear things” like his sisters and brothers, but he’s not sure what he does want. When he finds a book under a tree in the forest, though, that all changes. Enticed by its pictures of a bear “just like him” and despite warnings from his siblings, he heads to town to find the book’s owner in hopes she or he will teach him to read. His arrival is far from warm: All the people scream and run away. He locates the school, expecting to find children, but it’s empty. Then two things happen: Police in riot gear arrive and surround George even as a little girl shows up with her mother and claims the book is hers. Of course, the twosome pair up to the satisfaction of all, proving once again that reading is magic, and for George, it’s just the beginning. Chichester Clark’s signature style makes the story appealing. The font varies size to match the differing volume of voices and build the drama. Clever details add humor and visual interest. By the end, the chief of police is reading poetry to George; collaged-in bits of printed fabric enhance the bear’s lush and verdant wood. Inherent to the story is the subtle message that there’s a difference between not being able to read and not wanting to read.
A combination of farce and fun, this will tickle pre-readers. (Picture book. 4-8)