cover image The Bear Upstairs

The Bear Upstairs

Shirley Mozelle, , illus. by Doug Cushman. . Holt, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6820-7

When a very noisy bear moves into the apartment upstairs, the ursine writer who lives downstairs wonders if she'll ever be able to work again—or sleep again, for that matter. "At ten o'clock the upstairs bear takes a shower," writes Mozelle (the Zack's Alligator series) "Me! Me! Me!/ I'm a clean, clean bear!/ I even wash my underwear! " There is no end to the upstairs bear's ability to raise a ruckus, and Cushman (Birthday Mice! ) splits his sprightly detailed watercolor spreads lengthwise so readers can savor both the noisemaking and its impact below. When the writer bear finally has a face-to-face meeting with her new neighbor, however, she's in for several surprises: noise travels both ways ("I heard you typing this morning," he tells her cheerfully), he's a fan of her writing ("I love your recipe for Anytime Omelet," he says, whipping up one for them to share) and, best of all, he starts a new job as a chef on Monday (which means fewer opportunities to make a racket). Could this be the start of a beautiful friendship? It's a familiar tale, but the message is upbeat, and Cushman's expressive, huggable creatures exude an instantly recognizable humanity. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)