In this agreeable story, young Simon is distraught to find his bear Snowtop--whose matted fur and stains make him dear and familiar--replaced by fluffy white Strange Bear, smelling of soap. Simon takes Strange Bear to look for Snowtop, and after some nocturnal play in the grass and the sandbox and a snack of bread and jam, he wakes up to find Snowtop back--though he now misses Strange Bear. Kids will delight in figuring out what Simon doesn't know: that the bears are one and the same. McKay (Dog Friday) evokes Simon's point of view deftly, such as his preoccupation with his favorite toy (his only words are ""Where gone, Snowtop?"") and when he softens to the intruder Strange Bear, who suddenly ""look[s] very brave and friendly, despite his soapy whiteness."" Ayliffe's (The Busy Building Book) collage artwork is expressive, accomplished and thoughtfully detailed. Simon's room, for example, is cluttered with toys and decorated with his drawings. Framed by the clueless adults' concern for cleanliness, the relationship between boy and bear shines brighter and brighter, the dirtier they get. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998 Release date: 10/01/1998 Genre: Children's
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