A sensitive portrait of a lonely, homeless…bear, sort of.
The hulking narrator, swaddled in a heavy coat so that only a bear’s head and hairy but human hands and feet are visible, has no name, no history, no memories. “At first, I didn’t know that I was a bear. But when I tried to speak to this little lady who was passing by, and I saw her reaction, I started to understand.” That reaction, of fear changing to outright hostility, leads to the bear’s being chased down the street, thrown out of a store, forced to pick through garbage cans for food, and left to huddle amid piles of cardboard and newspapers, ignored by everyone who passes. Until, that is, a child stops to comment frankly that he smells bad but looks like a “teddy bear,” later comes back for a hug despite a parental talking-to, and on following mornings waves as she goes by on her way to school. That bit of contact is enough to lighten his spirit: “I may only be a bear lost in the city, but I am a teddy bear. And that’s no small thing!” Dumont portrays the “bear,” the urban setting, and the human connection with idealized tidiness, but there is food for both thought and discussion here.
A naked appeal to sentiment—but also to sympathy. (Picture book. 6-8)