“A boy had a bear. A fuzzy brown bear. / It went with him here and went with him there.”
This book starts simply with a cartoon-style boy and his teddy bear in a Seussian terrain, full of knolls, knobs, and curls. They tranquilly journey through day and night, “[a]ways a pair.” The story becomes a rhyming cumulative tale when the boy picks up a “goat in a polka-dot coat.” The trio continues on their journey, gathering the increasingly odd, seemingly toy creatures that dot the landscape, from a “huggable, lovable slug” to a “sing-along thing.” The pile of creatures in the boy’s arms becomes so high that with “a teeter” and “a totter” they all tumble down to the ground. But where is the bear? Readers know, but the distraught boy discovers that bear is on his head only when he cries out and the bear slides down. After their joyful reunion, the boy discovers where all the toys have come from. He assists in their return, and the boy and bear are alone again, “simply a pair.” The book ends with two pages of “Feelings,” challenging children to match “Sad” or “Happy,” for example, with a corresponding drawing of a facial expression exhibited by the protagonist, who is white. This seems a bit of overreach, since the boy’s expressions throughout the tale are overwhelmingly mild, and the illustration for Happy is the only one that has not appeared previously.
All tried-and-true territory here but not a comprehensive, satisfying experience. (Picture book. 3-5)