This gentle tale about friendship and home will give early readers and their grown-ups plenty of food for discussion.

WHERE BEAR?

The eternal quandaries of friendships between animals and children are given a new twist in this debut picture book by British artist Henn.

When this polar bear cub is small, living with the boy is no problem. As soon as he starts to grow, his natural bear nature starts to assert itself. He eats all the food, swamps the duck pond and roars in an anti-social manner. The boy realizes his pet is “just too big and bearish to be living in a house.” In an entertainingly repetitive phrase, the titular dilemma—“Then where, bear?”—is repeated on each spread, accompanied by illustrations showing the impossibility of each situation. He is too big to fit in the toyshop, too uncomfortable in the zoo; the circus, the woods, caves and the jungle are too scary for this sweet and fuzzy polar bear. A taste of an ice pop from the fridge gives them an idea. It’s off to the Arctic, where the bear feels quite at home in the snow. Everyone is happy, and the two friends still stay in touch, quaintly “chit-chattering on the phone all the time.” Boy and bear are depicted in comfortable vignettes; bold swashes of crayon overlay plain and textured backgrounds in a palette of red, gray, pink and lime. Thick, fuzzy gray lines describe the bear’s friendly bulk; the boy wears a complementary black-and-white-striped T-shirt.

This gentle tale about friendship and home will give early readers and their grown-ups plenty of food for discussion. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17158-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an...

I AM A BIG BROTHER

A little boy exults in his new role as big brother.

Rhyming text describes the arrival of a new baby and all of the big brother’s rewarding new duties. He gets to help with feedings, diaper changes, playtime, bathtime, and naptime. Though the rhyming couplets can sometimes feel a bit forced and awkward, the sentiment is sweet, as the focus here never veers from the excitement and love a little boy feels for his tiny new sibling. The charming, uncluttered illustrations convincingly depict the growing bond between this fair-skinned, rosy-cheeked, smiling pair of boys. In the final pages, the parents, heretofore kept mostly out of view, are pictured holding the children. The accompanying text reads: “Mommy, Daddy, baby, me. / We love each other—a family!” In companion volume I Am a Big Sister, the little boy is replaced with a little girl with bows in her hair. Some of the colors and patterns in the illustrations are slightly altered, but it is essentially the same title.

A good choice for caregivers looking for a positive, uncomplicated introduction to a new baby that focuses on everything an older sibling can do to help. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-68886-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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An adventurous treat of a bedtime story.

BEDTIME FOR SWEET CREATURES

A patient mother with a healthy sense of whimsy helps prepare her headstrong toddler for bed.

The story opens with a toddler, fists raised into the air, proclaiming, “No! No! No!” Thank goodness this not-at-the-moment-sweet creature’s mother is patient and creative as she corrals her child into a bedtime routine that may feel familiar to many readers. The words and behaviors of the child evading bed are translated into animal sounds and behaviors: wide-eyed and asking “Who? Who?” like an owl; shaking hair and roaring like a lion; hanging on for a hug like a koala. And, of course, the requisite leaving bed for a last trip to the bathroom and drink, like a human child. Zunon’s art takes this book to the next level: Her portrayals of the animals mentioned in the text are colorful and full of intriguing patterns and shapes. Additionally, the expressions on the faces of the mother, child, and animals speak volumes, portraying the emotions of each. Arguably, the sweetest part of the story comes at the end, when the child asks to sleep with Mommy and Dad. Though the mother sighs, the child climbs in, along with “owl, bear, snake, kitty, fawn, squirrel, koala, tiger, wolf.” (Readers attuned to details will notice the father’s look of delight at the parade of animals.) All characters are Black.

An adventurous treat of a bedtime story. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3832-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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