Don’t Eat That!

Drew Sheneman. Viking, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-101-99729-1
The latest from Sheneman (Nope!) looks and reads like an extended classic Sunday comic. His story has two protagonists: an unflappable girl determined to get a nature merit badge and the hulking brown bear she encounters in the woods. But this is no ordinary bear; even though he’s famished, he’s incapable of feeding himself. The book’s endpapers and title page show that he’s a former denizen of the city zoo. After preventing Bear from eating a rock (hence the title) and calmly explaining that Bear can’t eat her (“That would be terribly rude,” she says, without flinching), the girl takes him on as a project. From there, the ink-and-watercolor drawings portray a kind of My Fair Lady set in the wild. Bear fumbles in his foraging (even a rabbit gets the better of him) and, in a moment of frustration, eats the girl’s merit-badge logbook and spits it out with a supercilious “ptui.” Still, the girl perseveres, ultimately proving she’s a mentor ne plus ultra. Seamlessly blending verbal and visual humor, Sheneman lands every joke—including some truly cringeworthy puns. Ages 3–5. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2018
Release date: 06/12/2018
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