cover image The Bear Nobody Wanted

The Bear Nobody Wanted

Allan Ahlberg, Janet Ahlberg. Viking Children's Books, $15 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83982-7

This fanciful work traces the life and times of a teddy bear, from the factory assembly line through a succession of largely indifferent owners to, finally, a four-year-old who gives him the love (and a name) he has come to crave. The book regrettably falls shy of its mark, despite the plot's many ingenious twists and its relevance to human nature--in the course of the bear's odyssey both his off-putting, superior expression and his corresponding superciliousness are modified considerably, resulting in a more appealing bear all around. Readers in the suggested age range are apt to find the subject babyish, while the teddy-bear set themselves will quickly bog down in the long, difficult text and sophisticated humor and references--from which the whimsical but small and sparse black-and-white illustrations are insufficient relief. Ages 8-12. (Feb. )