Can a circus bear escape her day-to-day abuse?
"Once there was a bear," the simple narrative begins. Her life is one of drudgery and pain; she lives in a cage all day and at night performs for noisy crowds who throw stones and poke her with sticks. Then one night...high in the mountains...the crowd yells at her to dance. Cymbals crash and trumpets blast and stones strike, strike, strike. The bear stands very still, until finally she quiets the crowd with a tremendous roar. Pictures tell the rest of the story. The looming silhouette of the bear is seen against a background of brown dirt littered with articles left by fleeing townspeople. Beyond, a tall pole reaches to the night sky at one end of the street. Racing to the pole, she climbs higher and higher until, against a sky full of Starry Night stars, she jumps into the heavens. Greder's darkly beautiful charcoal-and-pastel illustrations carry the weight of the storytelling—the people's faces look crude and cruel—and are abetted by a unique design. At the beginning, minimal text is on every left-hand page along with sketchy drawings of the bear, while the right has full-color pictures. Near the story's end, the pictures encroach on the left-hand pages, getting progressively larger until the text is gone.
Subtle—yet spectacular and deeply moving. (Picture book. 3-8)