cover image The Bear Report

The Bear Report

Thyra Heder. Abrams, $17.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0783-4

Faced with a bland homework assignment that requests "three facts about polar bears," a girl named Sophie slumps at a table. She jots that "they are big," "they eat things," and "they are mean," and wanders off to watch TV. Sophie drops the remote in amazement when a life-size polar bear materializes on a chair and announces, "We're not all mean." The bear, Olafur, invites Sophie to the Arctic, and despite her indifference ("I've seen pictures"), a turn of the page transports them to an icy vista of blue and white. In unframed watercolor panels with graceful hand-lettered dialogue, Olafur and Sophie fish with sharp sticks, explore lichen-covered rocks, and watch the aurora borealis. They plunge their heads into the sea to hear whale song and, when their ice floe melts, ride a humpback to shore. Back home, Sophie's uninspired "bear report" expands into an illustrated project on Ursus maritimus. With few words and expansive spreads, Heder (Fraidyzoo) lovingly depicts Sophie's blossoming interest and Olafur's patient guidance, encouraging a passion for the wilderness without directly mentioning environmentalism. Ages 4%E2%80%938. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Oct.)