A grumpy bear is a reluctant playmate to a persistent pack of baby goslings in an inescapable game of hide-and-seek.
Lovable, curmudgeonly Bruce, the scowling black bear of the Mother Bruce picture-book series, makes his second board-book appearance for younger readers, following 1 Grumpy Bruce (2018). The setup is simple: “The geese want to play with Bruce today. // Bruce does not want to play. / He’s going for a walk alone. Let’s join him!” The remainder of the book depicts Bruce’s unsuccessful attempts to elude his would-be sidekicks and his hilariously perturbed reactions when his diligent seekers find him at every turn. Bruce hides behind trees, tries to blend in with rocks, attempts to escape in a bubble bath, tries to slip away with a cup of his favorite warm beverage, and finally flees in desperation till he and his pursuers all collapse in exhaustion. The final caption reads, “Good night Bruce. Let’s play this game again tomorrow!” Refreshingly, Bruce’s grouchiness is not presented as a problem that needs to be fixed. Rather, Bruce plays the long-suffering straight man to the charmingly oblivious baby geese, whose unwavering affection for their disinclined companion is genuinely touching. The artwork, as in all the Mother Bruce books, is exquisite, in the same league as any of the great children’s classics: rich in detail, deft, smooth, elegant, and expressive.
Part Are You My Mother? part The Odd Couple, all delightful. (Board book. 1-4)