cover image Bedtime for Bear

Bedtime for Bear

Brett Helquist, Harper, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-050205-8

Helquist's sumptuous paintings and expansive sense of visual comedy make this otherwise familiar hibernation tale a keeper. It's winter, and Bear, a hulking fellow who favors polka-dot pjs and a stuffed rabbit, is ready for a nice long sleep in his cozy tree cottage. But two mischievous raccoon pals in striped knitwear manage to be just irritating enough to coax him outside (the old snowballs-on-the-windowpane trick) and get him enmeshed in their winter rumpus of snowmen, snowballs, and sledding ("There was snow to roll and stack.... There was snow to throw!"). With cinematic energy and exuberantly choreographed action, Helquist (A Christmas Carol) makes the characters' giddy, snow-induced sense of carpe diem feel immediate and irresistible, aided greatly by onomatopoeic "thumps!" and "zips!" as well as playful speech-bubble dialogue. Readers will want to jump right into these pages and join in the fun—and they'll close the book agreeing that Bear has truly earned his zzzzs. Bonus: with the line "It's bedtime for bears," Helquist has coined a bedtime call-to-arms with staying power. Ages 2–7. (Jan.)