Book Reviews

So many books. So little time.

A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor

Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Winnie-the Pooh. Paddington Bear. Bears are part of our psyche. Now along comes a new bear story: A Brave Bear.

“The sun was hot,” begins the story. "The air was hot."

"I think a pair of hot bears is probably the hottest thing in the world," says Dad, and the story takes off. Little Bear thinks UP a good idea to go to the river and cool DOWN. Simple words, so descriptive.

"The grassy part to go ACROSS."

"The bushy part to PUSH THROUGH."

"I think a jumping bear is probably the jumpiest thing in the world," says Little Bear. Do you see, reader, a repeat of the sentence structure, almost, but not quite a chorus.

We have reached the pinnacle of the story. Little Bear jumps—"I wanted him to see me do a big jump"—and falls. Oh, oh. How does the story resolve? Dad offers to carry Little Bear, but he is determined to show Dad: "I decided to go on my own."

"I think a brave bear is probably the bravest thing in the world," says Dad.

And the wonderful illustrations: it's a simple palette yet so alive. Dad fully attentive to his son. Little Bear marching ahead, Dad looking back, keeping a wary eye on the surroundings. He is responsible for Little Bear. You can read the story of their relationship in those wonderfully expressive eyes.

They make it to the river finally. Look at that two-page spread reader. Dad and son blissfully floating on the cool river-water.

"I think a pair of wet bears is probably the wettest thing in the world," says Little Bear.

The day has turned around.

"On the way home the sun was glowing. The air was glowing…."

"Even tomorrow was glowing."

The first picture had Dad and Little Bear in a cave, trying to keep cool. The last illustration, also a circle, has them walking confidently into that yellow-orange sky.

Could there be a more positive ending to a story?

Title: A Brave Bear

Author: Sean Taylor

Illustrator: Emily Hughes

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Hardback: 30 pages

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8224-8