Bruce the bear (Bruce’s Big Move, 2017, etc.) is back for another grumpy day, this time in early-reader form.
Fans of Bruce can rejoice as their favorite character advances alongside his audience. The well-known grouch appears with his signature skeptical expression and mouse frenemy Nibbs. Nibbs arranges a “BIG FUN DAY” for the pair, but as per usual, it’s laced with disaster. Youngsters will giggle at and groan alongside Bruce as he recovers from a syrup-doused breakfast in bed, runs from an ant-infested picnic gone awry, and endures an extremely wet boat ride. The sight of oblivious Nibbs leading Bruce through the challenges, constantly beaming, adds to the laughs. The twist ending—that Bruce “likes being grumpy” and secretly enjoyed his harrowing day—is a smidge disappointing after such a fresh-feeling story, but no one will complain after all the fun. Higgins’ droll narrative style uses predictable and repetitive vocabulary and plenty of clear visual cues to help newly independent readers navigate the book themselves. There are enough meaty words like “afternoon” and “fancy” and “supper” interwoven to keep youngsters on their toes, but the narrative is so engaging and the art so crisp and colorfully textured that they’ll be eager to read on.
Bruce may not be having a “BIG FUN DAY,” but new readers sure will. (Early reader. 4-7)