cover image Bear Despair

Bear Despair

Gaëtan Dorémus. Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59270-125-4

The Stories Without Words series concludes with this piquant entry by French illustrator Dorémus, whose nervously cross-hatched line drawings are beautifully suited to his exploration of primal emotions. A blue bear lies asleep under a tree, clutching a treasured teddy bear. A long-snouted wolf sneaks up, snatches the teddy bear, and runs off with it, laughing maniacally. The wolf taunts the bear when it catches up with him and tosses the teddy bear farther still. The bear— entirely understandably—eats the wolf. In a wonderful moment, the bear, its stomach now full of wolf (visible in cross-section) stands on a hilltop, thinking hard; revenge is sweet, but the teddy bear is still missing. Additional outlandish encounters with fierce animals end with an even more crowded stomach, but still no teddy bear—until the bear finally finds an ally. There are no tiresome morals about sharing one’s belongings or waiting patiently until they are found; Dorémus goes straight to the frustration and rage of childhood, laying them out in 32 pages like a brisk session on an analyst’s couch. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)