cover image The Bear That Heard Crying

The Bear That Heard Crying

Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Dutton Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-65103-1

In this fictionalized retelling of an event that occurred in the summer of 1783, three-year-old Sarah Whitcher wanders into the New Hampshire woods and disappears. After four days, a community search party comes upon Sarah's footprints with bear tracks beside them, and concludes the worst: ``She's been torn to pieces!'' The next day, a stranger appears, claiming that he has seen the child in a dream. The vision leads to Sarah's rescue, and the community celebrates her safe return with a great feast. Readers will be intrigued by the authors' real-life connection to the story's heroine (Sarah is an ancestor of sisters Kinsey and Kinsey-Warnock). Although Rand's watercolors include some cliched poses (as when Sarah curls up beside the bear with her hands neatly clasped under her head), their luminous gray-green palette is appropriately woodsy. Without being overtly cute, Sarah's ursine rescuer is a particularly benign and cozy presence. Plainly told, this sturdy tale exudes comfort. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)