A teddy bear teaches his friends about the importance of diversity.
Sinclair is a young teddy bear who has just started school. His vocabulary far outstrips his age, and on the first day he tells his teacher he feels â€œdiscombobulated.” When he stands up to share the meaning of the word with his classmates, they notice his plaid paws. Sinclair, proud of his unique feature, soon realizes the giggles and whispers spreading through the classroom are not those of admirers. Hiding behind a book, he slowly inspects the students. They are all different sizes and colors, and their fur is different textures. Sinclair cannot figure out why, in the midst of all this diversity, they should make fun of a bear with plaid paws. During recess, he confides in his teacher the importance of liking oneself before being able to like and accept others. Shook then applies this template to people, who have stuffed animals of every color of the rainbow but exclude people based on the color of their skin. After recess, the teacher leads a similar discussion with the class, and the students realize they were wrong. They apologize, throw a picnic in Sinclair’s honor and are then seen sporting all manner of plaid accessories. Waltman’s illustrations of old-fashioned bears with visible seams, while adorable, do not do full justice to the story. Shook’s emphasis on bears of different textures and colors are conspicuously absent in the images. The page design features boxed quotes from the story not always derived from the same page. This design element might confuse younger readers and serves little purpose–the quotes, taken altogether, do not form a useful summary of the story. Sinclair’s point–while we are all alike, it is our differences that make the world interesting–is an important message for children. But young readers are not likely to be fooled by Sinclair’s precociousness or appreciate the lack of subtlety in his message.
A middling morality tale. (Picture book. 4-8.)