A story about a little boy with a bear-sized imagination—or perhaps a fantastic friendship with a bear.
Readers may debate how much of the story’s action is real and how much imagined, but as it opens it’s clear that Archie is fed up with everyone telling him he’s not a bear. Small and angry, he stomps off the recto while wearing what appears to be a bear hat, brown jacket, and gloves. “It’s NOT a suit,” he objects to looming adults who are visible only from the knees down. “I AM a bear!” The next spread zooms out to a distant perspective, rendering Archie a minute speck on the verso as he approaches a forest. There, he meets a large black bear wearing a red shirt, and when “Archie realized the bear was friendly, he said, ‘I like your boy suit.’ ” The bear, incensed, insists “It’s NOT a suit….I AM a boy!” Archie goes along with this, and a friendship is born. They cavort about the woods, teaching each other bear things (Archie teaches these) and boy things (the bear teaches those), ultimately ending up at Archie’s house. Throughout, illustrations maximize the characters’ extreme size difference, and gestural watercolors combined with blocky collage and textured pencil offer a multimedia feast for the eyes.
A striking, imaginative, beary good book. (Picture book. 3-7)