cover image Drawing Lessons from a Bear

Drawing Lessons from a Bear

David M. McPhail. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-56345-1

In this uneven picture book about following one's muse, a bear artist remembers the time as a young cub when he discovered his passion for drawing. Divided into two sections, the first, more successful half focuses on the bear as cub, perfectly content with the "" `being a bear' lessons"" taught by his mother (which include how to sit up straight and how not to drool at the table)--until he develops a love of drawing. While his friends collect tasty treats at the town dump, the hero searches for scraps of paper for his artwork. Encouragement and steadfast support from his mother and teacher, and trips to the local museum, further fuel the bear's creative juices. In the second half, after a rather abrupt transition (""many years have passed ""), the grown-up bear realizes that, even after garnering prizes and acclaim, his calling is best fulfilled living in his forest den and drawing pictures (and lighting a creative spark in his young friends). Though McPhail's moral is not as subtle or organic as in his recent Mole Music, his straight-to-the-heart message and inspirational tone make for a winning combination. His gently humorous watercolor-and-pencil compositions depict cozy, loving scenes of a very happy cubhood. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)