Bauer’s imaginative first-person romp puts (some) readers right into the story, inviting them to journey with the animals in the moonlight to welcome spring.
Under the eaves of a homey (and nicely untidy instead of spic-and-span) house, “you,” pictured as an androgynous blond, Caucasian child, are startled by some noises and must investigate. Stepping outside, you meet a bear who says, “It is time….Come with me.” You are kept wondering what it is time for as more noises follow the first ones, and animals and plants and even the breeze join the bear’s chorus that it is indeed time. Curiosity battles fear as more and more animals join the hand-in-hand parade to an unknown destination, the noises growing ever louder. Readers may start to feel their own curiosity fading in the lengthy setup to an over-too-quickly climax: A gigantic egg cracks open to spill out all things spring. Still, the text is at times lyrical and calming: “Cold mud sucks at your feet. / The moon is ice. / Even so, traveling with a bear / is rather nice….” Shelley’s India ink–and-watercolor illustrations are charmingly detailed if ethnically limiting in their representation of “you.” His animals are gentle and friendly, and the forest is a wonderfully textured place that harbors nothing scary.
A new perspective on the “arrival of spring” theme best suited to blond, pink-skinned readers. (Picture book. 4-7)