Sweeter than honey; there’s no drama in sight at Bear’s birthday bash.
Blackstone’s familiar character returns with nine of his closest fellow bears to celebrate his special occasion. The earnest voice gushes in its enthusiasm as his guests arrive. “Bear opens the door to welcome his friends / He's hoping his day of fun never ends.” Similar in stature, his company, shaded in smoky grays, chestnut browns and golden tans, follows an expected agenda; all play hide-and-seek and hunt for treasure until the host opens presents. The highly anticipated cake tantalizes through its whimsical design; striped candles echo the familiar cat’s appearance. Rhyming pairings at times leave behind a jarring residue. “It's full of delicious jam and honey / Raspberry, strawberry, apricot, cherry.” Paint, pen-and-ink and crayon patterned patches extend to compact boundaries. Bright balloons bob within busy scenes, from Bear’s initial decorating to a final participatory activity.Seasoned series fans may enjoy Bear in the spotlight, but the uninspiring narrative delivers no favors. (Board book. 2-4)