cover image The Bear Who Came to Stay

The Bear Who Came to Stay

Allen Woodman. Bradbury Press, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-793397-0

Three people gradually but enthusiastically reverse roles with a bear in this insubstantial story. ``A bear came to our house one morning in the spring,'' states the narrator. As she and her parents look on, the cuddly bear eats chocolate cake, brushes its teeth and savors soap operas on TV. Not to be outdone, the humans venture into the wilderness, where they catch fish in the river, eat honey and sleep in a cave. Autumn arrives all too soon, however, and the forest-exchange program comes to a close; the narrator and her folks return to their house, where the bear has grown nostalgic for the woods. Woodman and Kirby, coauthors of The Cows Are Going to Paris , provide an unrhymed, deadpan text, while Stevenson's ( Little Rabbit Goes to Sleep ; Gone Fishing ) cheery watercolors communicate the family's enjoyment of undomesticated freedom. The book's high quotient of cuteness, however, doesn't substitute for obvious deficiencies in the plot--namely, the absence of any reason for bear and humans to swap habitats. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)