A black bear with a square head and body (and no hair) prepares for winter in this rhyming story by debut author Kallman.
As winter approaches, this rare, hairless bear (whose name, Harry, is only revealed on his shirt) understandably gets cold. He begins to gather his warm clothing: first a pair of mittens, then a vest when he can’t find his jacket, then a pair of jeans. Frequently, Harry can’t locate what’s he’s looking for and has to improvise. He discovers shoes with holes in them, for example, so he makes sure to wear socks inside to cover his toes. When his hat is too small, he adds a scarf; covered with the mismatched clothing, “He’s happy and toasty / from his nose to his feet.” Unlike a normal bear, he gets ready to hibernate in a rocking chair in his home filled with plenty of everyday human items: a bicycle, an alarm clock, a bookshelf, a family photo (featuring Harry’s mom and dad, who are also square bears), a toy train track, and a large chest of drawers with a tall mirror. The poem, which scans smoothly and is filled with an easily accessible vocabulary for newly independent readers, is reminiscent of the traditional “Fuzzy Wuzzy” tongue twister. Children are sure to giggle as Harry makes substitutions to his original clothing plans, and a quiz in the back helps young lap readers increase their visual literacy, gathering clues from Livshits’ colorful paintings to learn more about the silly story. While Harry isn’t really a big square beast—he’s more like two squares stacked atop each other—he possesses a lot of personality, and his chaotic, multicolored, full-of-holes clothing looks undeniably cozy as he’s wrapped up in a warm blue blanket. A final set of four stanzas emphasizes that differences are good, but unfortunately lacks a smooth transition; the earlier verses about winter stand effectively on their own without a tacked-on lesson.
A picture book offers a clever poem about a bear’s wardrobe to share with preschoolers or to present to young independent readers to enjoy on their own.