Joost Elffers, Author, Mirja de Vries, Joint Author, Mirja de Vries, Author . Joost Elffers $29.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-9718975-0-2

De Vries has been putting her myriad antique stuffed bears into ornate and homey arrangements and photographing them for 27 years: bears reading to each other; bears in the bath; bears undergoing complicated operations (by bear surgeons); bears in school; bears in the kitchen; bears picnicking—these and many other tableaux can be found in this loving paean to her creature collection. Publishing entrepreneur Elffers (Play with Your Food), who popularized Tangram puzzles, has chosen more than a thousand of de Vries's color images for this 9.5"x11.5" book, which includes three double folds and four single folds. The vintage bears have a refreshingly handmade look in an age of machine-made fluorescent and electric toys, and they are nattily and whimsically attired. The pithily captioned tableaux have been composed with thought, care and humor: "Faux fur ensemble from Orsa de Bär." The book's complete lack of slickness, to the point of clunky cover fonts and decidedly unbusy layout, works in its favor. Acknowledgments include psychologist D.W. Winnicott's Playing and Reality (a book that "identifies the teddy bear... as a transitional object, the first 'not me' ") and the book takes as its motto Saevis Inter se Convenit Ursis, or "Bears live in harmony with other bears." With such warm encouragement, everyone can see him or herself as ursine. (Nov. 5)

Forecast:As the press chat notes, teddy bears are a $2.7 billion-a-year U.S. industry, with 500,000 American members of 21 teddy bear clubs. This fall marks the 100th anniversary of the teddy bear (named for the 26th U.S. president); if the gift industry can manage to make the date significant, look for this book to take up some of the bandwidth.

Reviewed on: 07/15/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!