In a gentle tale for the very young, a rabbit named Beatrice finds an ingenious way to share winter with her hibernating best friend, Bear.
The first sentence, appearing over a winsome bear sitting in a carrot patch, announces, “Beatrice and Bear met on a clear spring day.” Little readers will squeal with delight when they comprehend the next page, which says, with great understatement, “They did not get off to a good start.” Bear looks down at an irate rabbit vainly trying to shift Bear’s large bottom off the squashed carrot plants. But the relationship improves. The story of their blossoming friendship continues, with sweet-faced Beatrice and Bear engaging in all sorts of human activities throughout spring, summer and fall. Beatrice’s naïveté will evoke chuckles when, after a friendly squirrel kindly explains that “hibernation” is not a place, Beatrice jumps to the conclusion that it’s a sleepover and rushes to “hibernate” with Bear. Very funny pictures, including one of Beatrice wearing a sleep mask, illustrate her inability to join Bear’s deep sleep. The squirrel again comes to Beatrice’s aid, helping her arrive at a “brilliant idea” (begging the question of why the squirrel cannot be a third, named friend). The illustrations are simple cartoons with watercolor washes, and they skillfully convey both the many anthropomorphic touches, such as Beatrice’s carrot-decorated blanket, and a subtle range of emotions on the best friends’ faces.
Winningly sweet. (Picture book. 2-5)