Sylvie Kantorovitz Wickstrom, Sylvie Kantorovitz, . . HarperCollins, $14.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029331-4

In three mini-chapters, Wickstrom (illus. of Deborah Hautzig's Little Witch series) constructs a sweet and touching tale about a yard sale toy that becomes a girl's prize possession. The first segment finds Daddy gently suggesting that the torn and pitiful-looking Bear doesn't have much to offer. But Sosha feels awash in empathy: "Do you think anyone will ever want him?/ Daddy, maybe that shaggy old bear feels lonely." Resistance seems futile in the face of such heartfelt concern, and in short order Sosha promises, "Now you will live with me forever, shaggy old Bear." But even Sosha must admit that Bear needs triage, and in the section "Bear Is Sick," she asks the Doctor (aka Mom) to stitch him up, and then speeds his recovery with tea and a puppet show. The moniker "Mister Bear" is earned in the final chapter, when Sosha finds a doll-size fez and commissions Mom to stitch up a natty vest for Bear, prompting the girl to exclaim, "You look like a gentleman!" Wickham wastes not a word in the minimalist, largely monologue text (Daddy and Mom utter only a few lines), and she distills the thickly outlined illustrations—mostly vignettes—down to their essential elements. Keeping her storytelling tightly focused, Wickstrom makes every picture and line resonate with Sosha's forthright love and with the pride all children take in their own redemptive powers. Ages 3-6. (Jan.)