cover image Wide-Awake Bear

Wide-Awake Bear

Pat Zietlow Miller, illus. by Jean Kim. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-235603-1

For Elliott, a young bear, going to sleep before spring is like going to sleep the night before a birthday. In his cave, snuggled up to his hibernating mother, Elliott dreams “of golden sunshine, soft grass, and budding flowers.” But he wakes up while it’s still winter and can’t get back to sleep. Switching positions and thinking pleasant thoughts don’t work: he’s “Still. Wide. Awake,” a problem familiar to many readers. Endlessly patient, Elliott’s mother offers reassurance, snacks, and (best of all) a sign that spring really is coming. Debut illustrator Kim textures her digitally colored images with soft graphite, and her bears are smooth and roly-poly. Colors are muted in the bear cave, but tints of spring are evident outside. The episode in which Elliott’s mother helps him through his fear of the dark seems like the solution that will help him sleep, but it’s just the first in a series of encounters in a long “night” of hibernation. Elliott’s difficulty falling back to sleep might help other bed-goers sympathize—and might make them sleepier. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Jan.)