Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, , illus. by Ana López Escrivá. . S&S/Atheneum, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82561-3

An enterprising bear cub gets his way—at a cost—then figures out how to resolve his predicament in this gently comical tale geared to preschoolers. Percy asks each of his family members if he can bring his toy bears along on their trip to the beach. Each replies, "If we took your teddy, we'd have to leave something behind." So Percy does just that. At the beach, Escrivá (How Can You Dance?) uses panel paintings to convey the hero's many busy pursuits on sand and in water. When it's time for lunch, and his family discovers a cooler full of stuffed bears instead of sandwiches, Percy looks genuinely shocked. But the cub comes up with a plan: "Please do feed the bears," he writes on the boardwalk, and sets up each of his stuffed animals with an empty plate and red-and-white–checked napkin. Escrivá depicts ursine passersby who contribute everything from hotdogs to peaches. It's a clever premise, and Percy's savvy solution is tailor-made to flatter budding egos, but the execution is rather bumpy. Naylor's brisk text keeps the story moving, but she's less successful in setting a rhythmic mood with her use of recurring phrases. The initial, somewhat static illustrations of Percy's home seem out of sync with the "uh-oh" build-up of the plot, but Escrivá's renderings loosen up when Percy hits the beach. The understated humor pays off when the artist shows the food donors in a kind of boardwalk parade. Ages 3-7. (June)