In this true story, a bear named Samson leaves his mountain habitat for the backyards of Monrovia, Calif., where he lolls in hot tubs and forages for avocados. At one of his favorite haunts, the Potters' house, the homeowners videotape their furry guest swimming in the pool. One night, the bear appears to be ill, so the Potters call the game warden for help--only to discover that the bear has run afoul of the law. A death sentence is passed, but public outcry--fanned by the airing of the videotape--leads to Samson's pardon from the governor and a home at a zoo, complete with private swimming pool and waterfall. Tokuda, a California TV anchor who covered the story in 1994, gives a largely unembellished account. While entertaining, the text reads a bit like an outline, with overly brisk transitions and a number of salient facts relegated to a ""prologue"" that is actually a succinct version of the story. Millis's (Holy Mole Guacomole!) frolicsome watercolors of a teddy-like bruin amid festively colored backdrops highlight the cozy tone encapsulated in the final comments: ""Love is a very powerful thing, and nothing proves that more than the story of the old bear named Samson."" Ages 4-8. (May) FYI: A portion of Tokuda's royalties will go to the Orange County Zoo to help care for Samson.