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THE BEAR IN MY FAMILY by Maya Tatsukawa Kirkus Star


by Maya Tatsukawa ; illustrated by Maya Tatsukawa

Pub Date: March 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-525-55582-7
Publisher: Dial Books

A young boy describes the bear that lives with him.

The story opens on the face of an unhappy kid who lives with a bear. The protagonist goes on to show a diagram of the bear, who has “sharp teeth,” “mean eyes,” and “strong arms.” The bear is loud, roaring when the narrator is trying to sleep. The bear is “messy,” “bossy,” and “always hungry,” even stealing the narrator’s food. The bear is “strong” and plays a little rough. The kid tries to tell Mom, but she dismisses the protagonist, suggesting some outside play in the park. At the park, three bigger kids start bullying the narrator, who suddenly wishes there were a bear to help out—and there’s the bear! After this rescue, the kid realizes that sometimes having a bear can be pretty great. It seems having a bear in the family is a lot like having an older sibling. Tatsukawa writes and illustrates a metaphorical but completely accessible tale for any child who has an older sibling. Displayed in a combination of printed text and hand-lettered speech bubbles, the writing is simple and straightforward. The illustrations have a textured-paper look, with cute details, such as the protagonist’s bee sweater and the lion, snake, and shark sweaters the bullies wear. Narrator and family present Asian, and the other kids have a variety of skin tones and hair colors.

A thoroughly charming take on sibling relationships.

(Picture book. 3-7)