cover image BARE BEAR


Miriam Moss, , illus. by Mary McQuillan. . Holiday, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1934-0

Told in verse with plenty of satisfying repetition, Moss's (Snow Bear ) tale follows Busby the bear cub as he searches for his lost shirt, shorts and socks: "One night as he slept/ a stormy wind blew,/ snatched his clothes off the line.../ and away they all flew...." Although the text occasionally strays into clay-footedness, Moss successfully recombines traditional storybook elements. Busby encounters a succession of fairytale friends; he discovers his shirt, for instance, lining the basket of "a hare in a red riding hood," a mouse uses Busby's yellow sock to polish a tick-tocking clock. A refrain ("They searched high and low./ They looked everywhere./ They walked in a circle/ and then in a square....") and type that meanders across the pages add to the tale's charm. Even adults will like the fee-fi-fo-fumming ogre (who tucks the bear's bright shorts into his cap)—"You think that I'll eat you/ 'cause I'm big and I'm strong,/ but vegetarians believe/ meat eating is wrong!" McQuillan (Cluck O' Clock ) applies her colors over a surface covered with heavy strokes of white paint like antique cupboard doors. Skies of dreamy blue-fading-to-white add richness to the folkstyle renderings of animals and the ogre, who relaxes after his adventure with one of Busby's tiny books and a tiny (to him) mug of tea, alongside the no longer bare bear. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)