Bear Make Den

Jane Godwin and Michael Wagner, illus. by Andrew Joyner. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-9061-8
When readers first see Bear, a cheery fellow in bright blue overalls, he’s reading a book called How Make Den. The illustration both establishes the hero and sets up a quirk that gives this story its offbeat readaloud appeal: spouses Godwin and Wagner eliminate all articles—and sometimes verbs—from their staccato narration. Thus, when Bear, bitten by the DIY bug, carves a cave out of a rock face, readers are told, “Den good. Den great. Den just right.” But Bear yearns for something more (“Den need...”) and gets to work, diligently and joyfully making furnishings, lighting, an oven for whipping up a cake, and even a bear-themed chess set and artwork. There’s just one thing missing from this cozy scene: “Den need bears!” he shouts, and with a page turn he’s partying with his ursine pals as the narrator declares, “Den done.” Joyner renders Bear in a broad cartoon style that may bring to mind Yogi Bear with a stronger moral character. Indeed, Bear is a great role model, proving—without preaching—that industriousness, grit, and ingenuity offer manifold rewards. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/05/2017
Release date: 08/15/2017
Genre: Children's
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