cover image The Bear in the Book

The Bear in the Book

Kate Banks, illus. by Georg Hallensleben. FSG/Foster, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30591-8

In an extraordinary portrait of the tender, meandering, and inquisitive nature of reading together, a boy and his mother read a book about a hibernating bear, turning the pages slowly and commenting on the illustrations—it’s clearly an old favorite. “ ‘Winter settled like a big hush,’ read the boy’s mother. ‘And the big black bear slept.’ ‘Shh,’ said the boy.” The illustrations in the bear book intersect with the images of the mother and son, as though readers are reading alongside them; early on, readers peer over their heads, moving closer in subsequent spreads until the two books seem, now and again, to become one. Thickly stroked paintings and warm colors create a sense of richness, while slow pacing contributes to the sleepy atmosphere. As spring approaches and the bear in the book wakes up, the boy grows sleepier. Banks and Hallensleben (whose most recent collaboration was What’s Coming for Christmas?) allow readers to share fully in the pleasure of a loving parent-child relationship. This is, quite literally, what reading with a child is all about. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)