cover image The Mukluk Ball

The Mukluk Ball

Katharine Johnson, illus. by Alicia Schwab. Minnesota Historical Society, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68134-116-3

Karhu, a bear resident of a Northwoods-like community, is determined to attend the titular celebration at town hall. He’s not bucking the system—bears and people are on equal footing in these pages—but it’s up to him to put all the pieces in place. He needs a pair of mukluks (a soft lace-up boot), dancing lessons and plenty of practice, and a wake-up call so he doesn’t hibernate through the big January event. By dint of blueberry (and bear hug) sales and an owl alarm clock, his careful plan culminates with his becoming the belle of the ball: “ ‘Conga time!’ Everyone lined up behind Karhu. They all shimmied and shook.” Dramatic tension is all but missing in debut author Johnson’s story, but the sweetly forthright tribute to Karhu’s executive function and capacity for delayed gratification should resonate with younger readers testing the waters of independence. Illustrations by Schwab (Good Grief), rendered in thick applications of rich color, have the crafty feel of artwork on the walls of a cozy woods vacation cabin. Ages 3–7. [em](Nov.) [/em]