cover image Old Bear

Old Bear

Kevin Henkes, . . Greenwillow, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-155205-2

In time for autumn, Henkes (Kitten's First Full Moon ) masterfully tells of a hibernating bear who “dreamed that spring had come and he was a cub again.” Henkes's surefooted art guides readers through time: a terracotta dust jacket and acorn-brown frontpapers inked with dark brown leaves set the season. The tawny bear, pictured in full-page or four-to-a-page images, curls in his den, his eyes closed and his paws relaxed. Full-bleed spreads depict his dreams, first of being small among enormous flowers (“He took a nap in a giant pink crocus”), then of wandering on lush green summer hillsides (“The sky clouded over, and it rained blueberries”). His hibernation vision of fall includes rust-colored birds and orange fish, and his imaginary winter is a cool blue expanse under stars “of all colors.” When the bear's eyes open on a real spring day, he feels refreshed, if larger and older than his dream self. Lyrically describing the young-at-heart, Henkes plays an artist's game of hot and cold watercolor hues. Lilac endpapers crowded with flowers and butterflies and a back cover image of the bear in springtime balance the cover's imagery and gently and calmly acknowledge the annual cycle. Ages 2–7. (Sept.)