BILLY AND THE BEAR by Laura Bannon
Kirkus Star


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A tremendously satisfying story, with elements of suspense, originality and a happy blend of the might-be-true and the wish-it-could-be true elements. Billy, on a visit to his grandmother during the summer in Michigan, plans to earn money for a bicycle selling fudge and cookies at a stand on the corner of Main and Peach Streets. But there's another attraction- visits to the neighboring farm where the dancing bear, Gertie, lives with her trainer. The amount of suspense that has been built into the affairs of that eventful summer, as Billy's project gets under way, and Gertie runs away to the terror of the grown-ups and the enchantment of the children, and how Billy captures her -- is rewarding, and the whole is told in conversational style, which puts young readers at their ease. Billy's letters home- in facsimile- are included, and look oh so natural, with the ruled paper and labored writing. The pictures (by the author) are in key with the sturdy realism of the story and balance, in coloring, the blue boldness of the type. The first double spread shows the village and the river and the farm; and the color appears on alternate pages, with decorative marginal pictures in blue on intervening pages. Some of the details are beguiling and they tie in closely with the story. But oh dear, there is some such bad drawing, humans, particularly adults, so oddly proportioned, and much of the color florid and coarse, that the end impression is unappealing. Cloth binding, not as sturdily stitched as the book needs. One of these items about which one's feelings are very mixed.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1949
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin