Kaplanoglou pokes light fun at the yin/yang of the mother/daughter experience.
Mothers and daughters have different concerns as they wend their ways through the world. Kaplanoglou counterpoises, in a simple scheme of two sentences per double-page spread, the elder and youthful approaches: “Mama Bear dreams while she sleeps. Little Bear dreams while awake.” Mama Bear is protective: “Mama Bear runs and hides for safety. Little Bear thinks hiding is a game.” And both have their bugbears, as it were: “Mama Bear is afraid of too much light. Little Bear is afraid of darkness.” Carefully blending and bleeding his watercolors, Ferri brings a soft smokiness to the proceedings (in which Mama Bear wears a string of pearls), heightening the tenderness of the bears’ relationship, despite some disagreements: “Mama Bear wonders why Little Bears acts naughty.” It looks as though Little Bear has pasted lily pads on Mama Bear. “Little Bear wonders why Mama Bear always says ‘don’t.’ ” Such is life, but while Mama Bear is there to instruct and shelter—“Mama Bear sleeps with her back to the snow. Little Bear sleeps with her back against Mama Bear”—she also knows when to loosen the apron strings: “Mama Bear treads familiar paths. Little Bear likes to find new paths.” Affection runs through the story like a lazy stream.
There’s much to identify with in this gentle, perceptive book, no matter the gender or species. (Picture book. 3-8)