cover image GRANDMA'S BEARS


Gina Wilson, , illus. by Paul Howard. . Candlewick, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2518-4

Wilson's (Ignis ) ursine tale will envelop young readers with its whimsical scenario and a variety of realistic-looking bears with names such as Tumtum and Floss. Nat is having his first sleepover at Grandma's house, and he is a little apprehensive about the five bears who also reside there: " 'Will they like me?' 'They will if you like them,' [Grandma replies.] 'I'll love them,' said Nat." The boy finds most of the bears confronting issues that may well be recognizable to the preschool set (e.g., getting soap in the eyes, disliking the news on TV, being troubled by the wet mess a raincoat leaves). One by one, Nat soothes and comforts his new fuzzy friends, and they repay his kindness at bath and bedtimes (e.g., "When Nat got out of the bath, [Floss] wrapped herself tightly round him"). More sophisticated readers can easily imagine Nat as the one wrestling with the obstacles ("bears") during his first night away from home. The story's intentional reversal of roles (and its turning problems into loveable, furry creatures) will promote empathy among and empower youngsters. The honey-hued walls of Grandma's cottage radiate a warmth found throughout Howard's (The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark ) soft watercolor-and- crayon illustrations; several sepia-toned spot illustrations also help tell the tale. A scene depicting all the bears tucking in Nat will have youngsters longing for life-size teddy bears of their own. Ages 3-6. (Nov.)