A cantankerous bear’s home is once again wrested from his control.
Even though he’s a bear, Bruce accompanies four geese south every winter for their yearly migration. Personally he “would have preferred to hibernate,” but he’s their mom (Mother Bruce, 2015). Returning one spring—on a bus, naturally—they discover that mice have turned their (human-style) house into a woodland hotel. The ensuing commotion includes possum pillow fights, a beaver eating at the table—well, eating the table—a fox trying to coax turtle-guests into a pot of boiling water (“It’s a bath!”), and a tourist bus full of elephants. As cheekily funny as the illustrations are, even funnier is their juxtaposition with the often understated narration. “It was a long night” shows Bruce in his one-bear–sized bed with four unrelated animals—the porcupine wanting to snuggle, the rabbit needing to pee—plus two of his own kids. When the mice-proprietors urge Bruce to check out (“Our bellhops will see to your luggage”), Bruce’s own children—the geese, who, though technically adults, act like toddlers—appear in bellhop uniforms. Dialogue is in speech bubbles. With deftly drawn lines that vary from bold to fine over tertiary colors, Higgins creates touchable textures (wallpaper; hardwood floors) and hilarious facial expressions, including Bruce’s perpetually scowling unibrow.
A merry, witty celebration of chaos and grumpiness. (Picture book. 3-6)