cover image Roawr!


Barbara Joosse, , illus. by Jan Jutte. . Philomel, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24777-4

It’s bedtime, Papa’s away, and noises threaten from the forest that opens, Wild Things –style, from the walls of Liam’s bedroom. “What could Liam do? He was just a boy (thump thump ), too small to fight off forest things.” Nonetheless, Liam resolves to defend Mama, who is “snore asleep.” Alert readers will notice that the enormous bear—the source of the recurrent “roawr!”—looks suspiciously like Liam’s teddy bear, right down to the pirate eye-patch. Many “imagining” stories end when the child’s play is revealed as make-believe and the child is jolted back to reality. Joosse (In the Night Garden ) lets Liam vanquish the bear and return to bed in his own good time. Dutch artist Jutte’s ink, watercolor and acrylic spreads, which recall the work of Crockett Johnson, energize this swashbuckling adventure, from the leafy jungle wallpaper made real to the lumbering, snaggle-toothed bear. Joosse’s consistently inventive prose (“One dark and snarly night”) builds suspense (as does the repeating “thump thump” of Liam’s heartbeat) and is a worthy counterpart for Jutte’s artistry—the two share a solid understanding of small boys. Ages 3–5. (Apr.)