cover image Jason's Bears

Jason's Bears

Marion Dane Bauer. Hyperion Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0356-9

A bear fan from the word go, Jason's delight in all things ursine deflates when his older brother begins to turn his beloved bears into frightful apparitions. ""The bear in the corner of the basement behind the furnace likes noses,"" Kurt tells his gullible sibling, elaborating on several imaginary fierce bears that lurk around the house. Jason's imagination runs away with him, and soon he's ""trying not to think about bears."" In a rather odd resolution, a bear-shaped gingerbread cookie (each bite bolsters his courage) helps Jason banish his fears and the scary bears. Bauer (If You Were Born a Kitten) pinpoints the empowerment that comes from overcoming childhood fears and enlivens the narrative with zippy descriptions (e.g., bears that ""humphed and grumphed""). Hawkes (Weslandia) goes to town with the bear theme, outfitting Jason ( la Max in Where the Wild Things Are) in brown hooded jammies complete with bear ears, in a bedroom with bear wallpaper--even bear sheets and comforter. He also uses light and dark effectively, from the bear-shaped shadows that Kurt's hands cast on the walls to the grizzly shadow that Jason throws off as he eats the cookie and regains his nerve. A recipe for gingerbread bears is included. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)