cover image My Real Family

My Real Family

Emily Arnold McCully. Harcourt Children's Books, $14 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-277698-5

The thespian Bear Family makes a welcome return in this warm story, which opens as the curtain closes on one of the Bears' hit plays. Praise abounds for the writing, directing, acting--and especially for the sets painted by Blanche, an orphaned sheep who is visiting the Bears. But no one compliments Sarah for her work on the props and costumes. Blanche continues to command the attention to which Sarah feels entitled. Then comes the last straw: father Bruno offers to adopt Blanche--and gives her Sarah's bedroom. Infuriated, Sarah imagines that she doesn't really belong to this family; rather, her true parents are heroic forest rangers who have long missed her. She sets off into the woods to find them, but instead stumbles upon her ``real family.'' At last, Sarah concedes that Blanche (who masterminded the search for her) is an okay addition to the clan. McCully ( Mirette on the High Wire ) masterfully combines ink, watercolors and pastels to create fetching illustrations for this buoyant tale, which will help soothe that common childhood malady of feeling neglected. Ages 5-8. (May)