Every letter of the alphabet is used—some more than once—in a plot involving a human child and a furry, brown bear about five times bigger.
A line of snow-laden conifers spreads across the back of the initial double-page spread. In the foreground of the recto, the bear sits in a cave, a dazed look on its face. The bottom of the page shows an upper- and lowercase letter A followed by the word “awake.” The story continues with Bb and “big bear” on the next page and the bear’s obvious goal, a “cozy cabin,” across the gutter. Children will love the fact that the cabin’s inhabitant is a young, pale-skinned child (with long, gold locks that cannot be a coincidence) who, despite an initial shriek of “eek!” as the bear “enter[s] excited,” soon takes control of the situation. The cleverness and humor of the words are matched by art that is painterly, adorably sweet, and laugh-out-loud funny. The kid ties a ridiculous, yellow-knitted “hat” on the bear before marching it through town. People of all ages and racial presentations react to the bear as it responds to a snowman, the public “library,” and the food “market.” Since there are no sentences—only words—the book allows little ones to conjecture and comment. According to the jacket bio, this book was inspired by Helen Oxenbury’s ABC of Things (1971). It is a fitting tribute.
A perfect a-bear-cedary. (Picture book. 3-7)