Winters’ Pete and Gabby are back, this time largely avoiding detection while they roam through an elementary school.
The empty campground is again the spark for their adventure. As they explore, they come across a large red building and buses unloading kids. “Kids go here!” says Pete. “This place must be fun!” In the same odd semi-anthropomorphism that plagued their first title, the two bears act human—paws over their hearts for the waving flag, hiding to avoid getting caught in the music room, painting paw prints all over the art-room walls, climbing the rock wall in the gym—but at the same time, they scare the lunch ladies (but not the kids) who eventually spy them and require the ranger to come out and arrange to take them back to the park (after petting their heads) in the back of a police cruiser, no tranquilizers required. They also feel sorry for the caged animals in the science room, setting them all free. Kirkland’s watercolors show Gabby with a mouse on her nose and another running down her back, while Pete lies on his back on the floor, a bunny on his belly and a parakeet on his nose. Very unbearlike.
No doubt the bears are adorable, and those just starting school may appreciate a new perspective on the going-to-school theme, but, especially in areas where there are real bears roaming the countryside, the mixed message is troubling. (Picture book. 4-7)