Wonder Bear

Tao Nyeu, Author . Dial $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3328-2

Making her debut with this publication of her M.F.A. thesis project, Nyeu tells the wordless story of two children who cultivate an enormous beanstalk-like plant, which in turn sprouts the titular bear, all in one night. With help from Wonder Bear's magical blue hat, the children are treated to a series of fantastic spectacles and adventures, culminating in a ride through the sky on the back of a royal dolphin in the company of other sea creatures. Elaborate patterning, a fondness for curvilinear motifs (gusts of wind, swirls in the ocean) and a saturated palette dominated by lapis and other gem tones give Nyeu's silk-screened compositions a sumptuous, Art Nouveau-meets-psychedelic feel. But her main characters lack the personality to drive a compelling narrative arc; in general, these pictures are like individual showcases for different visual challenges (how to re-create transparent surfaces, how to suggest clouds and sky, etc.). Nyeu's art makes a strong impression; it just doesn't tell much of a story. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Genre: Children's
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