cover image Bear Outside

Bear Outside

Jane Yolen, illus. by Jen Corace. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4613-1

Yolen (the How Do Dinosaurs series) captures the essence of inner strength in this sensitive portrayal of a girl and the bear who always accompanies her. “I wear my bear on the outside./ It’s like wearing a suit of armor,” begins the self-assured protagonist. Encased in the large form of her furry partner, the white-skinned girl—clad in shorts and a T-shirt and sporting a bandaged knee—recounts all the ways that Bear supports her. Faced with a group of jeering bullies, the pair nonchalantly walks away. At school, Bear raises a paw in response to a teacher’s question. And in a cheery grocery scene, Bear’s paws cover the girl’s hands as the pair gleefully ride on the cart. The duo doesn’t always agree; Bear likes blue and the girl likes red (“Sometimes we make/ purple instead”). Whatever the situation, though, Bear is there, helping the girl to manage her anxieties. Distinctive gouache, ink, and graphite illustrations by Corace (Small World) balance gentle washlike coloring with careful geometric patterns and shapes. Together, Yolen and Corace offer a sophisticated depiction of a child’s relationship with her inner strength. Ages 4–8. [em](Mar.) [/em]