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ONCE I WAS A BEAR by Irene Luxbacher


by Irene Luxbacher ; illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-338-35633-5
Publisher: Scholastic

When is it time to shed one’s fur?

Luxbacher offers a metaphor for the way past experience remains part of oneself. A young brown bear, fuzzy and big-eyed, plays in a sunlit forest, with spring green leaves and bright, slightly abstract flowers in bloom. “Once I lived in a forest of tall trees,” the narrator bear explains. “A bright circle in the sky”—the sun—gave shape to the day. “I was never afraid.” The full-color, edge-to-edge art is dreamy and gently whimsical. As the air grows colder, something happens: The little bear hibernates, dreams, and emerges in “a different kind of wilderness.” This new environment has a human adult, a house, tall buildings, a classroom where “a different circle”—a clock—tells when to rest and play. The bear’s classmates look like human children, but wild creatures in the same clothes hover over some of them. On the last page the small bear in a yellow shirt has become a human child with white skin and brown hair, playing with a child with brown skin and hair, and a bear and a deer play together in the background. The transformation is a bit abrupt but nevertheless rings metaphorically true, encouraging the appreciation of one’s own story and recognizing different experiences of loss and change. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 19.8% of actual size.)

Imaginative and poetically resonant.

(Picture book. 3-7)