cover image Big Bear and Little Bear Go Fishing

Big Bear and Little Bear Go Fishing

Amy Hest, illus. by Erin E. Stead. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4975-0

As Big Bear and Little Bear stand together in their pajamas, Big Bear peers down at Little Bear. “I’m just in the mood for fishing,” Big Bear says, and Little Bear agrees—“Me, too.... Just in the mood.” Delicate pencil and watercolor vignettes by Caldecott Medalist Stead follow the two as they get ready, then gather needed items for the outing. Simple, reiterative phrases from Hest (Sometimes It’s Nice to Be Alone) convey easy familiarity and slow the pace (“Poles, says Big Bear. Fishermen need poles. Oh yes, says Little Bear. Poles”) as the bears decide that they can’t go fishing without scones, then pick blueberries, mix batter, and add a book to their wagon (“Now they are really, truly ready for fishing”). Though Big Bear registers visually as a caregiver, the two feel more like equals; Little Bear, for example, remembers to use a quiet voice for fishing when Big Bear forgets. Throughout an expedition in which nothing goes quite according to plan, satisfaction lies in the quality of seemingly limitless time the two bears share, a perception underscored by images that convey meditative calm. Together, the creators craft a world that never moves any faster than its characters want it to. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary. (May)