The Bear Who Wasn’t There

LeUyen Pham. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59643-970-2
Despite the title, the increasingly frustrated narrator of this lighthearted metafictional tale clearly expects a bear to show up: there are bear footprints all over the pages. But the other animal characters (plus one tree) are no help whatsoever. They include a spotlight-hogging duck who is busy shilling his own book, The Duck Who Showed Up; a prankster mouse; and a turtle wearing a fake bird’s beak over his nose. “Where is the Author?” the narrator finally demands as the silliness escalates, but even though she dutifully appears (and bears a striking resemblance to Pham), she seems a little confused herself. “Did I draw all this?” she says, taking in the goofball characters who fill the spread margin to margin. “Man, I have been busy.” The extensive repertoire of perplexed expressions, combined with lots of smart-alecky humor and sight gags (including a very funny, bear-shaped “bird pyramid” with the aforementioned turtle at its base) should leave readers feeling like they’re in on a very clever joke. Ages 3–6. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2016
Release date: 10/25/2016
Genre: Children's
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