cover image Bear in the Air

Bear in the Air

Susan Meyers, , illus. by Amy Bates. . Abrams, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-8398-4

The stuffed animal carried away on a long, unexpected journey is a perennially popular theme; here, it’s illustrated with delightful attention to period detail by Bates (The Dog Who Belonged to No One ). The baby who owns the unfortunate teddy bear is accompanied by a young mother in wellies, a polka-dot skirt, and a snug cloche hat for their boardwalk stroll at some pre-WWII seaside resort town. Bates works in roughly sketched pencil and soft, lustrously shaded watercolors, evoking a lost, gentler age. Meyers’s (Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! ) verse is sturdy, obedient to its metric structure: “This is the dog that found the bear,/ Shook it and tossed it high in the air,/ Carried it down to the sandy shore,/ Trotted away with the ribbon it wore.” Bates honors each person, creature, or force of nature the bear encounters (from sailor to seal to sea breeze) in stately picture frames that appear at the start of each leg of the bear’s journey under the sea, up into the sky, and eventually—to readers’ relief—into a neighbor’s yard to be rescued by its owner. Ages 4–8. (May)