cover image A Very Hairy Bear

A Very Hairy Bear

Alice Schertle, , illus. by Matt Phelan. . Harcourt, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-216568-0

With snappy internal rhymes and pared-down illustrations, Schertle (All You Need for a Snowman ) and Phelan (The New Girl... and Me ) chronicle the yearly cycle of “a boulder-big bear with shaggy, raggy, brownbear hair everywhere... except on his no-hair nose.” With his ultra-bushy coat to protect him and a naked nose to guide him, the bear happily eats his way from spring through fall: snapping up salmon from a river; raiding a honey-filled tree despite the bees; lolling in a blueberry patch, gobbling “the berries and the bushes, too” until his nose turns blue. Winter presents the one serious challenge to his untroubled sybaritic existence (“A very hairy bear DOES care about ice cold air on his no-hair nose”), but with a little ingenuity, that worry is put to bed—literally and figuratively. Phelan's easy-does-it, fluid draftsmanship on sepia-toned pages reflects the text's low-key humor, gaining energy from splashes of riveting color (the scene in the blueberry patch merits a look). It's fun to see the many ways the illustrator fits his beguiling behemoth of a hero onto a page or spread, always conveying the sense that the fellow is as cushy (and about as soigné) as an unmade king-size bed. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)