Gee’s Mad, Mad Bear (2018) returns, continuing to adjust to and embrace his feelings as he explores music and dance.
It’s a new day, and little brown Bear is very glad because he has new leggings, dance slippers, and a tutu. Eager to wear it all, he and his parent bear head out for ballet class. But on arrival, Bear sees everyone else in class and begins to feel unsure about himself; at first he’s “a little shy,” then “a little afraid,” and even feeling “a little different.” The music he hears helps to change his attitude, and, emboldened, he begins “to feel light. / And bubbly. / And twirly,” until he is dancing freely with everyone. Expressive, black-outlined drawings colored in muted tones make an endearing, uncomplicated, clear-cut accompaniment to the minimal text, working with it to evoke the emotional aspects of the little one’s experience. Whether he is uneasy about participating because he is new or self-conscious of his gender presentation (four of the other students wear tutus; one wears only leggings) is never addressed, leaving this text open to interpretation and discussion. What is clear is that his nonstereotypical gender presentation is celebrated and affirmed. A star sticker from the teacher for his participation leaves Bear “very glad” he joined the class, where he has also made a new friend—a bespectacled, darker-furred bear.
A positive, contemporary view of individuality and nonjudgmental acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)