Where Is Bina Bear?
Mike Curato. Holt/Godwin, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-250-76220-7
Bina, a large purple bear, is wearing a lampshade on her head at a party—and it’s not a sign that she’s having too good a time. “Bina? Is that you?” asks Tiny the rabbit, the party’s host, after discovering Bina standing alone in a dark room. “I am not Bina. I am a lamp,” the figure says. Tiny doesn’t press when Bina camouflages herself as other, increasingly elaborate objects, including a table with a fruit bowl, a tree with a swing, and a full bookcase. But when Tiny finally asks the bear if she’s okay, a tearful Bina—now hiding out in the kitchen as a bag of groceries—admits that she doesn’t care for parties and only attended because she likes Tiny. Refreshingly, the host’s response is not to cajole or push, but to be with Bina in a way that acknowledges the bear’s feelings—even if it involves each of them wearing a lampshade. As always, Curato (Flamer) handles the theme of acceptance with empathy and a gently comic touch: the crisply rendered ink, watercolor, and pencil illustrations have a visual directness that appreciates the reality of Bina’s needs, as shown through her masking attempts. It’s a tender tribute to both lone wolves (er, bears) and the beings who love them. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brenda Bowen, the Book Group. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2021