cover image Howard+sitter CL

Howard+sitter CL

Priscilla Paton. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-395-71814-8

Howard can't stand sitters. Every time his mother spends an evening out, ""He'd climb, he'd throw, he'd howl!... Howard always got away with it!"" However, Howard's tactics don't work on his mother's new hire, Sarah-because Sarah is a bear. She roars louder than Howard yells and bear-hugs Howard and his siblings. She also tells a pointed story of a misbehaving cub named Howard, who ""thought his mother didn't love him"" when she has left him with a sitter. ""Sometimes big bears need to do big bear business, and have big bear fun,"" Sarah explains. First-time author Paton presents the grizzly-as-sitter notion as startling, yet within the realm of possibility. She ends the story with pleasing tartness, as Howard bends the rules to stay up late with Sarah: ""Howard always got away with it!"" Meisel's (I Am Really a Princess) watercolor-and-ink illustrations reflect Paton's comic sensibilities, and resemble Susan Meddaugh's fantasy-meets-reality work. Even when wide-eyed with amazement, Howard acts rebellious; Sarah wears an expression that's both patient and concerned. Wry details include bear-covered upholstery, and, in Sarah's retelling of Goldilocks, a Bears pennant adorns Baby Bear's wall. Entertaining and comforting. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)