A quirky charmer of a bedtime book.
The eponymous stories are not books read to a child—rather, Crowther’s Mother Bear tells Little Bear three stories orally. It’s clear this is a familiar routine in their cozy home in the woods, since Little Bear asks for each story with descriptions that indicate familiarity: “The one that says it’s time to go to sleep,” and “The little girl with a sword who gets lost,” and “The one with the man in a big coat who never sleeps!” Mother Bear indulges each request, and the accompanying illustrations shift from depictions of the two of them in Little Bear’s room to ones that present each story’s world. While the palette is remarkably distinct, with a bright pink dominating the cover and highlighting interior spreads, the art style has a subtle, fantastic feel to it, as if it stepped out of Tove Jansson’s work—or as if a Moomin could easily step into them. At the book’s end, Little Bear imagines all the story characters coming to cuddle up in bed, and then Mother Bear goes to sit by the fire. In this closing spread she holds a book, its cover illustrated with those same characters, offering the reader a cozy metafictive conclusion.
A visually distinct, original, pleasing bedtime book that has the feel of a classic. (Picture book. 3-8)