cover image Humphrey's Bear

Humphrey's Bear

Jan Wahl. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-0332-1

Humphrey sleeps with the toy bear his father used to have. As the boy drifts off, the bear grows huge, and bossy (""Here is your cap,'' he says. ``Get moving''). The boat to the dream sea leaves from the backyard, and they sail away. Humphrey loses the bear in a typhoon but finds him washed ashore on an island, where the bear has become gentlehe plays the banjo and serves hot chocolate. Humphrey's father wakes him gently to say that he, too, used to follow the bear. The abrupt ending and the parental hovering at the end seem jarring and and inconclusive. The dream sequence, illustrated in dark seagoing vistas, and the island landscapes are effective. For characterization, this isn't as consistent and beguiling as other favorite storytime bears, but Humphrey's is better than the average. Ages 58. (April)