When migratory Bird wings off for the winter, devoted Bear undertakes a long and perilous journey to follow.
In a series of letters entrusted to the wind, Bear records each stage of the trek. It begins with a venture into scary, dark woods, then goes on to record: Bear’s rescue from a fisherman’s net by a mermaid, the ursine’s narrow escape from a battle between two mounted armies, a desert crossing, an odd but pleasant respite at a squirrel’s 100th birthday party, and other experiences. These culminate in an ocean crossing and landfall at last on a tropical island—where Bear discovers that Bird has already flown off northward. Caudry’s illustrations actually preceded and inspired the storyline. In them she depicts an animistic landscape in which cliff faces in one scene are actually faces, ocean waves become whales at second glance, and creatures met along the way are often extravagantly costumed or sport chimerical features. For all its simple phrasing, the epistolary narrative is infused with longing (“I’m so excited at the idea of being near you. / It fills me with courage. / Your Bear isn’t very far away now!”). By leaving both the relationship and the genders of the two principals unspecified, the narrative allows for a broad range of readings. Occasional human figures among the largely animal cast are uniformly light skinned.
Readers will find this journey poignant, strange, atmospheric, and, ultimately, joyful. (Picture book. 6-8)