cover image Bear of My Heart

Bear of My Heart

Joanne Ryder, , illus. by Margie Moore. . S&S, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85947-2

During a sunny day together, a parent bear (the gender is never specified) tells its cub all the ways in which the little one is "the bear of my heart, dear,/ and I am the one who loves you." These include telling many stories, seeing wonderful places together, racing in the sun and splashing in the stream. Ryder's (My Mother's Voice ) singsong meter elevates these simple pleasures into a lullaby anthem: "Let's sit nose to nose and share secrets./ Let's wish on a star, eyes shut tight./ Let's whisper our dreams in the darkness./ Let's snuggle together at night." For her part, Moore (Bartholomew's Blessing ) suggests an intimacy between parent and child that's reassuring but never suffocating; in one scene, the cub sits on the parent's back, blending into the curve of the older animal yet retaining its own individuality. The watercolors' velvety textures and soft hues convey an idyllic life, and the animals' comfortingly bulky shapes are embellished with just enough wispy brushstrokes to let readers know just how snuggly soft their coats are. There will always be a need for books like this one: unabashedly emotional while successfully skirting treacle. Ages 3-6. (Dec.)