A black bear ushers her two cubs through their first seasonal round.
The writer and the illustrator both turn in bland, uninspired work. Frequently inserting intrusive or unnatural sound effects—“Ooh-Ooh-Coo! Ooh-Ooh-Coo! The twins nurse on milk thicker than cream, their little motors thrumming until they sleep”—Wadsworth leads the three bears out of the den to munch late-winter grass. Later, Bear rescues her cubs from an icy creek (“Crack! Snap! Whoosh! Roar!”) and in summer, drives off a male bear. Suddenly it’s autumn: the bears flee a wildfire, gobble up acorns, and then, as snow falls, squeeze back into the cozy den. With similar lack of variety or feeling, San Souci poses his bears in generic woods and meadows, oddly oblivious both to a line of tourists standing a few feet away in one scene and, in another, to glaring headlights while lumbering (not, as the narrative has it, “dashing”) across a road. In the confrontation scene he also neglects to pick up on the author’s remark in her concluding note that female bears are “much smaller” than males. David Martin’s Shh! Bears Sleeping, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher (2015) is just one of several livelier traverses of similar territory.
The wildfire is all that sparks here. (Informational picture book. 5-7)