cover image My Friend Bear

My Friend Bear

Jez Alborough. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0583-4

Like its predecessors Where's My Teddy? and It's the Bear!, this large-size book about Eddie and his teddy bear, Freddie, will endear itself to pint-size preschoolers. When Eddie wishes for a friend to talk to, he and Freddie encounter the forest bear's huge, golden teddy bear, followed shortly by the enormous, brown bear himself. ""Oh, teddy [says the bear, whimpering], what can I do?/ I've got no friends, apart from you."" Eddie, hiding behind the bear's teddy, ""speaks"" for the teddy and laughs when the bear falls for his ventriloquism. Soon, Eddie and the forest bear are giggling together, providing the voices for their teddies and making plans to play together again. ""Do you think that they're lonely?/ Not anymore..../ That's what having friends is for."" The plot and the message are pat and the illustrations can be repetitious--nonetheless, what prevails is the author's expert understanding of just what preschoolers find amusing. For example, at the moment of confrontation, as Eddie and the forest bear stare at each other, clinging desperately to their teddies, the bear stands like a pigeon-toed toddler sucking on his huge thumb. Young readers will laugh when the bear believes his teddy is actually talking, partly because they will delight in their own superior knowledge but also because the bruin is plainly ""such a great big silly bear!"" Ages 3-7. (Nov.)