A fed-up bear takes a break from his annual cave-sleeping routine but finds that his companions and slumber aren’t so easily left behind.
Bear’s hibernation time has started, but he can’t sleep. For one thing, he’s surrounded by about 20 critters who pile atop and next to him, whether it’s Beaver or Raccoon or Skunk. “I’ve had enough of being treated like a big furry mattress,” he declares and sets off to find solo accommodations at a posh hotel. It goes about as well as could be expected: he scarfs down every snack in sight, drinks from the toilet, and has trouble getting the room’s temperature right. But just when readers think that he won’t catch a wink because of the “strange, hollow, empty feeling” in his tummy, it turns out it’s not loneliness but hunger that only room service can cure. Gigantic Bear, with his enormous white belly patch and his curiosity about hair dryers and shampoos, is a grumpy delight, but he’s not completely heartless. When his pals show up, they do end up in a hibernation cuddle, though it’s unclear who’s picking up the charges for the whole winter. Stuffed with skewed, goofy, and detailed illustrations that highlight Bear’s presence against his expensive surroundings, the book goes quite a few beats further than simply delivering a moral message about being careful what you wish for. Bear gets to have his friends, his sleep, and a hibernation stay in style.
It won’t break the mold of the big-bear-in-the-city trope, but sharp jokes and richness in the details make this book well worth an extended stay. (Picture book. 4-7)