Blanket & Bear, a Remarkable Pair

L.J.R. Kelly, illus. by Yoko Tanaka. Putnam, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25681-3
When a blanket and teddy bear are separated from their beloved owner, they turn into a questing duo: the bear, an indomitable Odysseus, braving the elements and even resisting the pull of an island of “lost blankets and bears,/ living in retirement,/ without worries or cares,” while the blanket serves as a sail, tent, parachute, and source of warmth. When the remarkable pair finally does find the boy, he’s “so grown-up! so tall!” with a new focus for his affection: sports and girls. A happy ending that sends the two back to the island (“No longer owned,/ free to do as they wish”) keeps this bittersweet story from falling into the downer camp. Kelly, a debut author (and grandson of Roald Dahl), writes austere, emotionally blunt rhymes (“they were no longer needed./ Their time was now through”) that, when combined with Tanaka’s (One Moon, Two Cats) velvety but highly formal acrylic illustrations, keep the book’s more playful fantasy elements in check. On the spectrum of stories about the inner lives of playthings, this is more Velveteen Rabbit than Toy Story. Ages 3–5. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/10/2013
Release date: 08/29/2013
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