cover image The Million-Dollar Bear

The Million-Dollar Bear

William Kotzwinkle, David Catrow. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-679-85295-7

The author of E.T. the Extraterrestrial serves up the sentiment in this entertaining if familiar tale. Like the Velveteen Rabbit before him, the Million-Dollar Bear is a winsome, well-worn, stuffing-filled creature with an almost melancholy yearning for something greater-in his case, freedom from the vault of Argyle Oldhouse, a wealthy eccentric with a passion for plush teddy bears. So named-and so valued-because he is the original teddy bear, the Million-Dollar Bear inevitably falls victim to a bear-napper (``All's fair in love and bears,'' declares the assailant). Following a series of standard-issue escapades, the Million-Dollar Bear eventually, happily, finds himself in the arms of a humble but appreciative child, whose grandfather cheerfully proclaims the bear ``not worth a red cent.'' Forlorn-looking Million-Dollar Bear and the many ursine supernumeraries are typical, cuddly examples of the teddy bear genus, in marked contrast to the human characters, whose highly exaggerated facial and body features evince Catrow's background in cartoon illustration. An unexpectedly conventional creation from a proven, unconventional imagination. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)