cover image Leola and the Honeybears

Leola and the Honeybears

Melodye Rosales. Cartwheel Books, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-590-38358-5

Rosales's (A Strawbeater's Thanksgiving) update of a nursery staple features an adventurous African-American girl and her doll. Leola wanders away from her Grandmama and into the Pine Hollow Woods, where she encounters wily Ol' Mister Weasel. Frightened by the meeting, she runs on, until she reaches the empty inn run by the three Honeybears. There Leola sets aside her Grandmama's teachings (""I know my Grandmama said, `Never help yourself in folks' kitchens until first being politely asked,' but I don't think she'd mind this time"") and samples all manner of chairs, snacks and beds before being discovered by a surprised but kindly ursine family. She's then led safely home by a friendly blackbird. Unfortunately, the writing is often hackneyed (""When Leola got her way, she could be sweet as brown sugar. But when she didn't, she could be as stubborn as Grandmama's old mule""), and the representational paintings overdo the facial expressions. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)