Why is Bear so mad?
Readers first encounter Bear in his bedroom, scowling. A flashback (unusual in picture books) explains that he’s mad because he “was the first one to have to leave the park for a nap.” The accompanying art shows Bear being led off the recto and looking back longingly at other cubs on a playground. The text then explains that he tripped and “got an owie on the way home. And then he had to take off his boots and leave his favorite stick outside.” This understated, sympathetic text is extended and enhanced by Gee’s expressive, downright cuddly art, which evokes something of Kevin Henkes’ later style, with a dash of Marla Frazee’s emotive prowess. A zoomed-in portrait of Bear’s pouting face against a dark background brings readers back to the time of the opening spread and reads “Bear thinks it is all no fair.” This may bring to mind really, really angry Sophie and her blazing close-up in Molly Bang’s famous title. Bear’s ensuing tantrum alone in his room might make some wonder where his mother is (it was she who led him off the playground), but she soon reappears to give him lunch and tuck him in for a much-needed nap. When Bear awakens, he’s ready to play outside, refreshed and, like angry Sophie before him, no longer mad.
Good, good book! (Picture book. 2-5)