cover image Bear Is a Bear

Bear Is a Bear

Jonathan Stutzman, illus. by Dan Santat. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-288051-2

When a parent introduces her infant child to a gigantic brown bear, it seems like misguided parenting, but after the kid slobbers and blows their nose on Bear, the two become inseparable. Santat’s digitized watercolor and pencil illustrations draw a striking, sweet-humored contrast between the scale of the ultra-plushy Bear and its sculpturally rendered, always growing human consort. “Bear is a soft, warm pillow,” Stutzman writes, as the tiny child blissfully snoozes in Bear’s huge embrace; Bear is game for both dress-up and ill-advised digging in the garden; when a lightning storm casts shadows in the child’s bedroom, “Bear is a great protector.” The child’s life predictably moves on without Bear, but one day, “Bear is remembered” and presented to the next generation as its true form is revealed. While the story line feels familiar, there’s real poetry in the declamatory, rhythmic text and a lovely, everyday magic in Bear and the child’s easygoing, unconditional connection. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)