Eve Bunting, , illus. by Nancy Carpenter. . Clarion, $12 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-97462-9

Life on Huckleberry Lake is idyllic for Little Bear as he sits in his small wooden boat. He rows, he fishes, and "on sunny days he lay back in it, closed his eyes, and dreamed. And he was happy." Until, that is, he grows too large for the boat. "It is a little bear's destiny to grow and grow till he is a big bear. It is a little boat's destiny to stay the same size," his mother gently tells her sad cub. Re-teaming with Twinnies collaborator Carpenter, who limits her palette for a pleasing retro look, Bunting evokes a familiar theme for preschoolers: the frustration of change. She also shows the rewards of problem-solving: the now Big Bear gives his boat to a smaller bear, making him promise to love it as he does (for it is "a little boat's destiny to keep sailing on a blue, blue lake," he explains). Unfortunately, the word "destiny" appears repeatedly throughout the story, and because the daunting concept is not explained in an age-appropriate way, it may confuse some young readers. However, a positive message about sharing does ring clear. The spirit of generosity that Big Bear feels as he brings happiness to another creature may be contagious to youngsters after reading this upbeat tale. The artist adds another fun twist: in a closing scene, the hero is hard at work building "Big Bear's Big Boat," indicating that passions begun in childhood can endure. Ages 3-6. (May)