Fans of McBratney’s best-known work, Guess How Much I Love You (illustrated by Anita Jeram, 1994), will recognize (and embrace) the cozy tone of this charming story about how to cope with mishaps.
They’re also likely to welcome little Hansie and his parents, a cuddly, anthropomorphized bear family, with open arms. Hansie behaves like a typical preschooler, busy mimicking the world around him, digging in the dirt and playing with his friends. Each scenario, however, leads to a minor injury or moment of discomfort. Hansie bangs his knee, gets sand in his eyes and knocks his head against a low-hanging branch. In each case, his father is close by, ready to apply a bandage, advise him to “blinkety blink” to clear his vision or give his head a rub. Each simple remedy is capped with a big hug and a comforting “There, there.” When his father comes home later in need of care, Hansie is happy to return the favor. McBratney’s plot doesn’t break any new ground, but he endows his ursine characters with distinct voices and effectively captures a young child’s endearingly imaginative play. Bates’ mixed-media illustrations, meanwhile, add even more sweetness and an old-fashioned feel, with rounded shapes, soft outlines, subdued colors and engaging details (don’t miss the ducks playing in the sand).
A pleasing portrait of a nurturing father-son relationship, McBratney’s latest should find a warm welcome. (Picture book. 4-7)