cover image Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

Another Celebrated Dancing Bear

Gladys Scheffrin-Falk, Author, Barbara Garrison, Illustrator Scribner Book Company $13.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-684-19164-5

A ``heavy-footed brown bear whose heart is soft as butter,'' Boris is unhappily employed at the animal hospital. When he sees an ornate poster announcing that his friend Max, ``the celebrated dancing bear,'' is about to tour St. Petersburg, his discontent overwhelms him and he can't control his tears, even as he bravely struggles to congratulate Boris. But Boris, too, is soft-hearted, and he sets about teaching Max to dance. Scheffrin-Falk's first picture book gracefully confronts jealousy, self-doubt (Max ``felt a little foolish. Dancing lessons at his age!''), the value of persistence and the power of friendship. Garrison's etchings, framed like snapshots and hand-colored to highlight certain objects (a sash, a jacket, a flower) against sepia-like backgrounds, infuse the volume with the feel of an antique scrapbook. This old-world flavor further enhances the nostalgic imperial Russian setting, replete with samovars, graduated Russian peasant dolls (here shaped like bears) and distant spires. Ages 5-7. (Mar.)