A bedtime bear book with vintage flair.
This Dutch import via the U.K. looks like a throwback to the work of mid-20th-century artists such as Leonard Wiesgard, Alice and Martin Provensen, Feodor Rojankovsky, and perhaps even Robert McCloskey, so well-known for a bear book of his own. The sans-serif type used on the cover and interior pages adds to this modern aesthetic, but rather than make the book feel dated, it’s quite appealing. The engaging text doesn’t seem to lose anything in Watkinson’s translation as it tells the story of a little brown bear cub named Mika who doesn’t want to hibernate after an owl tells him about the northern lights. He sneaks out when his parents are asleep in their den and asks the animals he meets how to find them. Neither the moose, the crane, the wolf, nor the wolverine can help him, but when he again encounters the owl, they look up together and see how “all kinds of different colours lit up the deep blue of the night.” While Mika is caught up in his reverie with the northern lights, his parents arrive. They say they aren’t angry with him, but they were worried and explain that they followed his paw prints through the snow to find him. Their return back to their cave is a cozy end to a truly lovely picture book.
Old-fashioned in the beary best of ways. (Picture book. 2-7)