Imaginary pets have to be handled with care and although Custer's cohabitation has some ironic results, his coming is belated (after half the book) and rather clumsy. First there's a performing clown and bear in the pulpit, then a strange lady in the congregation who proffers three bear seeds, one of which sprouts into a plant beating strange fruit -- namely, on the jacket; a diminutive bear looking liked jack-in-the-pulpit, in the book a life-size specimen. Mr. Asendorf has earlier established the little girl narrator's family as funny tintypes of the time when people spoke of ""Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Bryan,"" but they have disproportionately little to do with what happens when Custer's more-or-less bearlike misbehavior brings punishment on blameless children. Ultimately Custer departs gracefully for the circus but all that's been demonstrated is the inconvenience of harboring a bear who's invisible to adults (plus the range of their tolerance for imagination). At the snappy steropticon opening, more seems to be in the offing.