Humans are terrible role models for bears.
The title character of this picture book is envious of human beings’ caves, where they store their cars. They’re full of stuff! “My cave will have the most stuff ever!” Big Brown Bear says, and he starts to gather stringed instruments and a rotary phone and a rocking horse. Soon, he’s trapped in a room full of clutter, and his friends have to pull him out, in a lovely echo of Pooh’s adventure with the hunny pot. The moral is both funny and wise, and some readers (particularly those who collect books) will recognize themselves in the main character. But the real appeal of the book is the digital illustrations, because they attract attention by looking just slightly wrong. One bear’s fur is a strange silvery-blue, and the characters’ arms and legs tilt away from their bodies at unlikely angles. The playful anatomy is oddly endearing. If Zommer took it any further, Big Brown Bear might cease to be a bear altogether and turn into a collection of beautiful and surprising shapes, which is entirely appropriate to the theme. And Bear’s pile of stuff looks like a glorious collage, with almost every item a different color.
The pictures perfectly capture the message of the book. Readers will both envy Bear’s trove of junk and be very eager to clean up their own piles of stuff. (Picture book. 3-6)