After being excluded, a polar bear gets her turn to shine.
Ursula (the polar bear) and Ricardo (a dark-haired white man with a mustache and soul patch) are in a public pool practicing their routine for an upcoming water-ballet competition. They twirl, splash, and leap with precision. But one day, the pool management decides that bears are no longer welcome. It should be noted that a menagerie of animals is in the water at all times, but bears are suddenly too hairy. Ursula believes that dressing up like a rabbit will solve the problem, but Ricardo has already found a new partner: Hortense the giraffe. Ursula is dejected. She slinks to the local pond to practice water ballet by herself. There, she meets a new group (some bears but other animals as well), and they decide to storm the competition. Ricardo and Hortense win first place, but the ursine group captures the hearts of the crowd, and a more important victory is won. The pool becomes a welcome place for everyone again. This is certainly a creative spin on inclusivity—an issue never before approached through agile polar-bear paw positions or the graceful lifting of camels in the air. Starin’s anthropomorphized cats, chickens, crocs, and more (along with amusing asides in the background) steal the show.
It’s a consciously silly pretense, but discussion possibilities abound, and there’s no question it’s funny. (Picture book. 4-7)